The announcement came in a video posted to the Yankees’ Twitter account on Monday. Speculation had run deep about Judge’s participation in the Derby, which will be held next Monday, July 10, at Marlins Park in Miami, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, and he confirmed it on the same day he picked up AL Player and Rookie of the Month awards for June.
“Even better, I got a friend coming with me,” Judge said in the video.
You’ve asked, he’s answered. Check out which Yankee(s) are headed to Miami to participate in the HR Derby… pic.twitter.com/OoUxIaWFuo
— Text A3 to 89269 (@Yankees) July 3, 2017
That friend is Sanchez, seated to Judge’s left in the video, who’s hit 13 homers – nine of them in June — after coming back from a right biceps strain that sidelined him for a month. Sanchez is second among catchers in home runs, behind fellow All-Star Salvador Perez of the Royals, and has been turning up the heat lately, slashing .329/.415/.634 in the past month. Sanchez also has a track record with home runs, having hit 20 of them in 53 games as a rookie last season.
Judge comes with plenty of qualifications, too. He leads the Major Leagues in dingers with 27, and his personal batting-practice shows have gone viral this season. What’s more, fans in Miami can expect Judge can rack up style points for sheer power and distance. He holds the Statcast™ record for the hardest-hit (121.1 mph) and longest (495 feet) home runs.
While both Judge and Sanchez said prior to Monday’s series opener against Toronto that their main focus will be to have fun in the Derby, they did say they will be trying to win, even if it means knocking the other one out.
“We’re going to root each other on, but this is a competition,” Judge said. “That’s what’s going to make it that much more enjoyable for both of us, just competing against each other.”
Sanchez agreed with Judge, but also added through an interpreter: “If I don’t win, I want Judge to win.”
Judge has said he’d bring Yankees batting-practice pitcher Danilo Valiente along to pitch to him, but there was no word on who Sanchez will select.
“I think it’s going to be special, the Derby,” Sanchez said. “The fans are going to enjoy it. I’m pretty sure the excitement will be through the roof.”
Megan Zahneis and Matthew Martell are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.