E.A. Sports Today

Derby dandy

Piedmont’s Kirk outduels power-hitting top prospect to win Featured Players Home Run Derby at Miami’s Power Showcase

Piedmont’s Easton Kirk shares a moment with Georgia baseball prospect Terriez Fuller (L) before taking down Fuller and another contender in the Power Showcase Home Run Derby Friday in Florida. (Photos courtesy of Shane Kirk)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

The next time Piedmont catcher Easton Kirk steps into the batter’s box, opposing pitchers might want to think twice about what to throw him.

With any swing he’s capable of driving the ball out of the yard. And with his newly minted success as Home Run Derby champion Kirk will command an even greater amount of respect as a hitter this coming baseball season.

Taking on what some considered a David-and-Goliath proposition, Kirk won the Feature Class Home Run Derby at the International Power Showcase in Miami Friday.

The Wallace State signee hit eight home runs in Marlins Park, edging out a Top 50 outfield prospect from Georgia and a prospect from Florida in a contest that has touted Bryce Harper and Chris Bryant among its former participants.

“It’s huge,” Kirk said. “It just goes to show if you put in hard work it all pays off eventually.”

In addition to winning the Derby, Kirk also received an award for the most home runs hit in both rounds combined (21).

The Derby in his division was a three-man contest that included Terriez Fuller of Griffin, Ga., and Michael Bessell, a corner infield/catcher prospect from Clearwater, Fla.

Bessell went first and launched seven homers into the night air. Kirk went next and hit eight, with the longest estimated at about 420 feet. That left only Fuller, a 6-4, 250-pound former Auburn football commitment, but fighting the same crosswind as Kirk he only got six out of the park.

“The wind was straight in and (his homers) were all going like 390-420; I might have hit 440,” Kirk said. “It was kind of blowing out to left field and both us are left-handed so it didn’t really help us. He hit a bunch of high home runs (in the preliminary round) so the bunch of ones he hit the other night weren’t going as far.”

When the final out was registered guaranteeing Kirk’s victory, he was rushed and embraced by several of the new friends he made during the week’s workouts.

“I was going in planning to win it,” Kirk said. “I didn’t care how he was ranked or how they thought I wasn’t going to hit as many. From the moment we signed up for it that was a goal to come down and win … and it ended up happening.”

It didn’t surprise new Piedmont baseball coach Matt Deerman that was the approach Kirk took. He’s looking forward having the senior’s pop in his lineup this spring.

“Easton is just the type of kid who wants to be the best whatever he is doing, and he will work his tail off to make sure he succeeds,” Deerman said. “His success in Miami comes at no surprise because he is the kicker on the football team and go-to shooter on the basketball team, so he has been in plenty of pressure situations.

“To have a guy like Easton in the middle of our lineup every day can change how teams pitch to the entire heart of a team’s lineup. He has led us in nearly every offensive category the past two years, so we expect another big year from him. I’m excited and look forward to having the opportunity to coach Easton and the rest of the Bulldog baseball team this year.”

After the Derby Kirk played in the All-America Classic all-star game. He went 1-for-2 and singled home a late-inning insurance run for the winning Americans. He caught three innings and played left field for another. Fuller was named the game’s MVP.

“It was fun,” Kirk said. “There were some good pitchers there; it was a really, really good experience. I talk to a bunch of the coaches and they were just amazed I didn’t have any Division I offers.”

There is a philanthropic arm to the Derby, where the participants choose an individual or organization to hit for. Kirk was hitting to benefit Mason Farley, his 12-year-old cousin awaiting a kidney transplant. His effort has raised $1,250 and he’ll be presenting a check to his cousin when he arrives back in Piedmont.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login