On the heels of the beginning of the 2023 MLB draft last night, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. The 2023 Home Run Derby:
A staple of All-Star festivities, the Home Run Derby returns tonight with a group of eight sluggers set to battle it out for a $1MM prize. This year the participants, in order of seeding, are: Luis Robert Jr. of the White Sox, Pete Alonso of the Mets, Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, Adolis Garcia of the Rangers, Randy Arozarena of the Rays, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays, Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners, and Adley Rutschman of the Orioles.
Robert, Betts, Garcia, Arozarena, and Rutschman are all first-time participants in the derby. Rodriguez participated in the derby last year, storming to the finals before losing by just one homer to reigning champion Juan Soto. With Soto not participating this season, the most recent derby winner in tonight’s field is Alonso, who won the contest in both 2021 and 2019, with his 2019 victory coming in a hard-fought final against Guerrero. This year’s Home Run Derby will take place at 7pm CT and air on ESPN.
2. Day 2 of the 2023 MLB draft:
Day 1 of the MLB draft began with the Pirates selecting LSU right-hander Paul Skenes with the first overall pick. By the end of the night, 70 picks had been made in total. The draft will kick back into gear for Day 2 at 1pm CT this afternoon, with rounds three through ten slated to take place today. While much of the top-tier talent was already selected on Day 1, a handful of top players remain on the board. Virginia Tech outfielder Jack Hurley (No. 36 in the class, per MLB Pipeline) and prep right-hander Travis Sykora (No. 40) represent the top college and high school players remaining, respectively, per MLB.com. The Athletic’s Keith Law lists prep shortstop Roch Cholowsky (No. 23) as the top high schooler available, while Vanderbilt lefty Hunter Owen (No. 38) is his top remaining college player.
3. Pham to undergo MRI:
Mets outfielder Tommy Pham departed yesterday’s loss to the Padres in the first inning due to right groin soreness. Per MLB.com, Pham will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of the issue. With the Mets not scheduled to play until Friday due to the All Star break, it’s possible that Pham’s injury won’t end up requiring him to miss any time at all, though a more severe issue would be an unfortunate turn of events for both Pham and the Mets. Not only has Pham been an impactful bat for the Mets this season, with a .277/.350/.485 slash line in 234 plate appearances that’s good for a wRC+ of 130, but a significant injury at this point on the calendar would surely complicate the club’s ability to shop Pham ahead of the trade deadline on August 1. The 35-year-old veteran made the top 10 of MLBTR’s recent Top 50 Deadline Trade Candidates as the top outfielder listed.