It had a delayed start and was later disrupted by rain, but all in all, the 2021 Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise proved to be a great way to spend a mid-lockout Saturday afternoon. Royals prospect MJ Melendez took the title, edging past the Marlins’ own Jazz Chisholm Jr. and defending derby champion Lewis Brinson.
After previous editions of the derby were held on Montague Beach in the Bahamas, this one was moved to Atlantis Paradise Island. Derby contestants stepped onto a beachside stage and launched baseball into the ocean, needing to clear a floating “fence” to be credited with home runs.
Dozens of professional hitters appeared in the event. Chisholm led all of them with seven long balls in the opening round.
Brinson and Melendez also qualified for the finals after homering six times apiece.
The finalists were given 10 swings to hit as many dingers as possible. Melendez came out on top with seven, Brinson had five and Jazz—despite loud cheers from the heavily Bahamian crowd—had only one.
Aside from the individual competition, contestants were divided into two teams as drafted by derby co-founders Lucius Fox and Todd Isaacs. Unheralded Marlins outfield prospects Steven Adderley and Andre Arthur didn’t hit any home runs themselves, but got to share in the celebration as Team Isaacs finished with the higher combined total.
Arthur and Adderley began their minor league careers in 2021 with the Dominican Summer League Marlins, so I imagine most of you haven’t seen much of them in action. Like Chisholm, they are part of the recent, unprecedented wave of Bahamian-born baseball talent. Their derby rounds are embedded below.
Arthur was the last player on the stage prior to the mid-contest rain delay:
Unfortunately, Ian Lewis—yet another Bahamian in the Marlins organization—was among those whose derby performances fell in between the gaps of the livestream broadcast. A derby attendee tells Fish Stripes that he went yard three times. Although Miguel Rojas was selected by Team Isaacs during the draft, it doesn’t seem that he made the trip to the island, visiting his native Venezuela instead.
As detailed by Jake Mintz and Jordan Schusterman of FOX Sports, this week is about much more than the derby itself.