2013 Home Run Derby Winner: Barrage Highlights Raw Power of Yoenis Cespedes
While Oakland Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes wasn't one of the most hyped participants heading into the 2013 Home Run Derby on Monday, it wasn't exactly a surprise that the powerful Cuban tore the roof off the building at Citi Field.
The 27-year-old was certainly hyped up when he signed with the Athletics in early 2012. He racked up a Cuban League-record 33 home runs in 90 games for Granma during the 2010-11 campaign. That included hitting .333 and posting 99 RBI.
A 20-minute YouTube video highlighting Cespedes' power and athleticism entitled "The Showcase" went viral in late 2011. Major league scouts quickly arrived in Santiago to see the 5'10", 210-pound slugger and word spread.
On Monday, Cespedes launched 32 home runs, many of the awe-inspiring variety. He racked up 17 homers in the first round alone (third most in the first round in the history of the competition).
Cespedes' longest home run of the first round traveled 456 feet. He averaged 410.6 feet per home run despite knocking 17 out of the park, via Cliff Corcoran of SI.com.
After easing up a bit in the second round (six home runs), Cespedes saved his best for last, launching nine home runs in the final round against Bryce Harper. His Derby-winning bomb went 455 feet.
Cespedes' display on Monday showed us something we already knew: He has incredible raw power.
Were you impressed with Yoenis Cespedes on Monday?
The next step for the Cuban will be to get back to hitting for average.
After hitting .292 in his first major league campaign last season, he's hitting a meager .225 this year, which ranks ninth worst among all qualifying American League batters. That's a bit concerning considering one of the question marks surrounding him coming out of Cuba was whether he could hit for average at the major league level.
But Monday's barrage at Citi Field makes you wonder how much more dangerous Cespedes could be if he works on his contact hitting.
With Cespedes only being in his second MLB season, we can only hope that he will improve in that regard so we can watch blasts like we saw on Monday night on a regular basis.
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