For the second straight year a Reading Fightin Phils slugger has won the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Home Run Derby. Slugging first baseman Darick Hall locked down the walk-off victory in Richmond, VA on Tuesday night.
Hall, a lefty batting prospect, tallied 175 points (25 points per homer with distance bonuses) in a 90 second round to cement the title. He sent a deep fly out to right-center field to clinch the victory.
The 23-year-old will be among four players slated to represent Reading in Wednesday's EL All-Star Game.
Hall, the Phillies' 14th round draft selection from 2016, leads the league in RBI with 55 and sports a .240 average with 14 home runs in 83 games thus far this season.
Last year, catcher Deivy Grullon was victorious in the EL Home Run Derby in Trenton, NJ.Congrats to @ReadingFightins' Darick Hall, the 2019 Eastern League Home Run Derby overall champion! pic.twitter.com/GX8IcuMF0n— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) July 10, 2019
Along with Hall, relief pitcher Addison Russ, outfielder Mickey Moniak and starting pitcher Adonis Medina were honored as EL All-Stars as well. Moniak is currently sidelined with a hamstring strain. To replace him on the Eastern Division roster by outfielder Grenny Cumana.
In 35 appearances, the right-handed Russ sports a 1-5 record with 13 saves, a 1.77 ERA and a 14.1 K/9 mark. The 24-year-old was the Phillies' 19th round pick in 2017.
Moniak, who was the top overall pick in the 2016 draft, is batting .266 with four homers, 38 RBI and nine stolen bases through 75 games. There is no clear time table for when the injured 21-year-old will return to action.
Medina, a righty, has a 5-3 record with a 3.90 ERA and a 6.2 K/9 mark in 14 starts. The 22-year-old has a 2.77 ERA over his last eight starts.
Cumana, a right-handed batter, has a .323 average with two home runs and 22 RBI in 48 games with Reading. The 23-year-old has also played at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season.
Recently, I talked with Hall, Russ and Moniak about the All-Star honors and those quotes lie ahead...
-When the news comes your way that you've made the All-Star team, how do you find out?
I think they come out with the All-Star rosters and the news kind of just trickles down. When it’s official, the manager will usually just pull us together and let us know and tell us who. It was awesome to hear and get the news. Any time you’re honored with that, it’s a blessing and a good opportunity.
-What does it mean to be going with a few teammates?
Oh, it’s gonna be so much fun. We’re excited and we’re just looking forward to continuing playing baseball and just having a good time. I think with this team, we have a lot of fun and we enjoy being around each other and I think that’s a real positive that we have in our clubhouse and we’re just going to keep it rolling.
-You guys were in a playoff race in June and lost out to Trenton for the first half title. The split half division winners is a new rule this season. What was that like?
I think the halves are fun because it’s a little more instant gratification with the early playoff hunt, like you said. And I think, honestly, it was a playoff atmosphere. That game was a must-win game. We all felt it. There was a lot of good energy in the clubhouse around it and it was fun.
-It's a pretty good team here with a lot of names on this team. Does anyone stand out as a leader on the team?
I don’t think we have necessarily a leader on the team. I think Shawn (Williams) is the guy, ‘cause, our manager, he just does such a good job. He’s a players’ guy. You know, he keeps the vibes good. Obviously, we have a mix of young and old, but everybody works hard and I think that because of that culture, it keeps everybody else in check. We have I would say as a group, we are very hard workers and are very similar in that culture and I think that because of that, there’s not necessarily a leader with the players. It kind of follows suit with Shawn and I think that’s who really leads this team.
-With a good amount of success this year, what type of feedback are you getting from the coaches?
You know, I think that the vibes I get are just, “Keep doing what you’re doing, and keep growing.” There were some things that I needed to learn here, at the dish, approach wise that I’m going to keep working on and understand and try to craft into my game.
-Is there anything you're working on specifically? Average? Strike outs? Is there anything that's a big focus for you to improve on?
You know, obviously, I’m trying to hit balls hard. I’m trying to eliminate soft outs early in the count. I’m trying to get deeper into counts, trying to draw a few more walks, you know, and things like that. ‘Cause usually soft outs early in the count indicate that you’re not swinging at the right pitch, because—if you eliminate that, then that will lead to more walks. As a power hitter that’s kind of what you want to do because they’re going to pitch you differently and you’ve got to craft your approach to where you’re going to hit the ball hard, walk and that sometimes comes with a strike out, because that’s kind of how it is. But that’s what I’m trying to do is kind of find that approach and to be able to make it transfer to the next level.
-Is there a spot in the batting order that you've seen more success with or found more comfortable?
This year I’ve hit 3, 4 and 5 and each time it’s worked because of who else we have in the lineup at the time. Who was hot, who wasn’t, like and that’s kind of how the lineups work out and I think—last week I was hitting third a lot. That was fun. I like hitting in the first inning. But it doesn’t matter to me. I feel like I’ve been a middle-of-the-lineup guy and any time I get a chance in any hole to drive in runs is obviously okay.
-What is it like getting the news that you're an All-Star?
It’s fun. I feel like anytime you get nominated to be in an All-Star Game it shows that you’re doing something right. The best thing I can hope for is to continue to do that and keep riding out the season.
-That coaching staff has had good things to say about you and clearly there's a vote of confidence that comes with being the team's closer, but what does it mean to you when the manager and coaches rely on you and speak highly of you?
It’s always a good thing especially when our coaching staff depends on you like that and trust to hand the game over to you and they know you’re going to do everything you can to make sure they win. I mean, we’ve got a great group of guys behind me that, defensively if the (opposition)’s going to hit the ball they’re gonna go get it for me. And I’ve got a great coaching staff that’s going to make sure I’m ready to pitch every game if I need to be and every other day when they need. I feel like I’m in a really good place right now.
-Will the experience at the All-Star Game be better with some teammates going with you?
It's always fun to have teammates with you, especially going there. Adonis has pitched great. Mickey and Darick, offensively and defensively, have been awesome. So, being able to share it with some guys that you've spent the year with is very fun.
-What is it like for you to be honored as an All-Star here in the Eastern League?
It’s exciting. I think coming into this year it was definitely one of my goals and with the development I’ve made the past three years and to know that the little stuff, the adjustments I’ve made things are kind of just paying off and this is kind of a reward I guess you could say. But there’s still a lot of work to do. And it’s something super cool, man.