Caissie wins first Tournament 12 home run derby
September 21, 2019
By Gord Brown and Caio Miari
Canadian Baseball Network
The final day of Tournament 12 began with a bang as Owen Caissie captured the inaugural home run derby title.
Caissie earned the wrestling-type belt with 11 long balls in the final round, five more than Tyler Hinrikus’ runner-up total. The pair each played this week with Team Red, a collection from across the country that had the most derby participants with three.
Canadian baseball is in the midst of an exciting era of upcoming talent, headlined by those participating in Tournament 12. Dozens of young players had the opportunity to impress collegiate and professional scouts at Rogers Centre over the course of this past week.
“It just shows that we can play and compete with the best-of-the-best, I think we showed that here,” said Caissie, a University of Michigan commit, following his standout performance in front of his peers and scouts alike.
Caissie led the home run derby from beginning to end, setting the pace with eight first-round dingers to make him the betting favourite. Hinrikus hit five home runs to make it to the final round.
The two-man final batting order was decided by a game of rock-paper-scissors, which Hinrikus won and decided he would go second. Regardless of the order, both talents put on a show.
The first Tournament 12 home run derby was a cherry on top of the five-day showcase event.
“Just because we’re a cold weather country, I don’t think that brings any setbacks,” said Hinrikus. “I think if you want to work, you can be just as good as anyone from anywhere.”
Playing at Rogers Centre is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Kitchener, Ont., native, who has been watching the Blue Jays on TV since he was young.
“Stepping into the box where some of the greats did, and hitting home runs where they’ve hit home runs is a pretty cool experience,” Hinrikus said.
There were plenty of lessons for the young prospects to learn.
“You’ve really got to soak in this week,” said Hinrikus. “Everything from it, no matter if it’s the best week of your life or you’re struggling with it. I think you have to take the tips from the pro’s.
“You’re hearing from Roberto Alomar and greats such as him. Just enjoy the moment.”
The Tournament 12 changed its format in 2019, sorting the teams based on the positions, instead of which province they came from.
That made the event an off-the-field factor as well.
“The baseball community in Canada is growing, and I think when all the best players come together there’s a special bond,” said Hinrikus. “It’s great to get close with these guys and taking tips from them throughout the week.”