Here’s what Guerrero told ESPN’s Marly Rivera on Wednesday:
Plenty of rookies have participated in the Home Run Derby over the years. Aaron Judge won it as a rookie in 2017. Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, and Joc Pederson all took part in the event as rookies in the not too distant past. There’s plenty of precedent for this.
The Home Run Derby is a spectacle that doesn’t count for anything and MLB‘s priority should be getting as much star power involved as possible. That’s been a problem at times, so much so that MLB raised the prize money to $1 million this year. They want more marquee players. Vlad Jr. may be a rookie, but he is already among the game’s most popular players. As far as I’m concerned, inviting him is a no-brainer.
Guerrero, who is still only 20, went into Wednesday’s game hitting .248/.316/.446 with six home runs in 32 games. He’s recorded the second highest exit velocity on a batted ball this year (118.9 mph), and his average home run distance (425 feet) is fifth longest among players with at least five home runs.
Guerrero’s father, Hall of Famer Vlad Sr., won the 2007 Home Run Derby at what was then called AT&T Park in San Francisco. The 2019 Home Run Derby will take place in Cleveland’s Progressive Field on Monday, July 8.