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Giancarlo Stanton will be taking his baseball-destroying talents to MLB's All-Star festivities. The Miami Marlins' slugging outfielder said Wednesday that he will participate in the annual Home Run Derby held on the eve of the All-Star Game.
He will become the fifth Marlin to appear in the Home Run Derby, which has become the undercard to MLB's annual midsummer classic (some would argue that the Home Run Derby is a bigger deal than even the All-Star Game itself). He will join Gary Sheffield, Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla as Marlins who have appeared in the Home Run Derby.
Stanton was selected by Matt Kemp of the LA Dodgers as one of the National League's four representatives. After Kemp said in a TV interview last month that Stanton would likely be one of his picks for the NL team, Stanton said he would gladly accept any invite. That outcome has come to fruition.
Though he is in a five-way tie for 11th in home runs this season with 17, few hitters possess the raw power and tremendous bat speed of Stanton.
The 22-year-old Stanton has already hit 73 career home runs. When he gets a hold of a pitch, it is not unusual for him to launch it well into the outfield bleachers.
"Everybody’s waiting to see this kid on that kind of stage," Marlins bench coach Joe Espada told the Miami Herald on Wednesday. "He'll play to the crowd, the oohs and ahhs. He’ll get it going. It’ll be fun."
Espada added, "I love his chances," saying to MLB.com that he hopes Stanton selects him to be his pitcher in the derby. Espada throws batting practice pitches to Stanton before every game. Last month, teammate Logan Morrison offered to be Stanton's towel boy during the derby.
Stanton has been one of the few bright spots in the Marlins lineup this season. Besides the home runs, he leads the team in slugging percentage, RBIs, on-base percentage, doubles, and runs scored. It is only a matter of time before the team offers him a lucrative contract extension resembling what it gave Ramirez three years ago.
This year's Home Run Derby will be held on July 9 in Kansas City.