Pencil in Edwin Encarnacion as a participant in the Home Run Derby.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki were named captains for next month’s slugging contest.
Bautista will captain a four-man American League squad while Tulowitzki will lead a team from the National League. Bautista had 15 home runs on the year to 18 by Tulowitzki heading into Monday night’s action.
Each captain will pick his own team, and it may be a safe bet Bautista goes with teammate and MLB home run leader Encarnacion. The Blue Jays first baseman led the league with 24 dingers heading into Monday’s contest against the New York Yankees. Encarnacion is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to all-star voting, but derby captains are free to select any player.
Oakland Athletics outfielder Yeonis Cespedes won last year’s competition by smacking a total of 32 homers.
The Home Run Derby will take place July 14 at Target Field. The MLB All-Star game will be played the following night.
AIKEN HAS ARRIVED
The Houston Astros are close to signing left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken, the first overall pick in the 2014 draft.
The Astros could announce a deal with Aiken as early as Tuesday, MLB.com reported.
The slot value for the No. 1 overall pick is $7,922,100.
“It feels great,” the 17-year-old Aiken said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports when he arrived in Houston from San Diego. “I’m excited. I’m really excited to take this next step in my life.
“It means the Astros really invested in me and they’re really looking forward to having me do what I can do for them.“
Aiken, from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, is a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder who was committed to UCLA.
This past season at Cathedral Catholic High School, Brady Aiken was 7-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. He struck out 111 of the 228 batters he faced during his senior season.
Considered advanced relative to the command of his three-pitch repertoire given his age, Aiken features a fastball that touches 94 mph in addition to an exceptional breaking ball and changeup. He drew comparisons to both Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Philadelphia Phillies lefty Cole Hamels.
“This is the most advanced high school pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said after the draft. “He has command like I’ve never seen before.”
HARPER TO START REHAB
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was scheduled to begin his rehab assignment Monday with single-A Potomac.
The 21-year-old Harper will play at least two games for Potomac and then be re-evaluated. He will be playing all three outfield positions during his rehab assignment.
The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year was hitting .289 with one home run and nine RBIs in 22 games this season before injuring his thumb on a headfirst slide into third base. He was put on the disabled list on April 27 and had ligament surgery two days later.
Harper most likely will be rejoining the Nationals when they return home June 30 against the Colorado Rockies.
Harper said he is pleased that he can play baseball again.
“I’m very excited to get back out there,” Harper told MLB.com. “We’ll see where I’m at physically. I’ll try to go day by day, at-bat by at-bat. I try to work hard and get back where I need to be.”
LAWRIE GOES ON DL
The Toronto Blue Jays placed infielder Brett Lawrie on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right index finger.
The Blue Jays also optioned catcher Erik Kratz to triple-A Buffalo and recalled outfielders Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar.
Lawrie fractured his finger when he was hit by a pitch in Toronto’s 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. He is hitting .244 with a career-high 12 home runs and 38 RBIs this season.
Kratz has appeared in 30 games with the Blue Jays, batting .221 with three homers and 10 RBIs.
Gose and Pillar have combined to play in 58 games for Toronto this season. Gose has hit .233 with four extra-base hits and four RBIs, while Pillar has a .243 average with three extra-base hits. Pillar has hit .326 with 25 RBIs in 46 games for Buffalo.