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Angels' Shohei Ohtani gets top seed for MLB Home Run Derby

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who leads MLB with 32 home runs, will be the first Japanese player to participate in the Home Run Derby. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who leads MLB with 32 home runs, will be the first Japanese player to participate in the Home Run Derby. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

July 8 (UPI) -- Top seed Shohei Ohtani, defending champion Pete Alonso and Washington Nationals phenom Juan Soto are among the eight participants who will compete in Monday's 2021 MLB Home Run Derby, the league announced.

MLB said Wednesday that Ohtani, who leads MLB with 32 home runs, will take on Soto in the first round of the eight-player bracket. Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez battles Alonso in the first round.

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Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo faces Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story in another first-round matchup. The final first-round matchup features Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini and Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson.

Ohtani will be the first Japanese player to compete in a Home Run Derby. The Los Angeles Angels pitcher and designated hitter owns a .279 batting average and has 69 RBIs through 81 games in 2021. His latest hot streak includes nine home runs over his last 12 games.

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Alonso beat Toronto Blue Jays infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the 2019 Home Run Derby. The 2020 Home Run Derby was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The New York Mets first baseman, who hit a rookie record 53 homers in 2019, has 15 homers through 73 games in 2021.

Guerrero, who ranks second in MLB with 28 homers this season, chose to skip the Home Run Derby. Fellow home run leaders Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres, Kyle Schwarber of the Nationals and Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves also opted out.

Players who participate in the Home Run Derby get three-minute time slots in the first and second rounds to hit as many home runs as possible to advance to the next round. They get two minutes in the final round matchup. The sluggers receive a 30-second time bonus if they hit at least one homer that equals or exceeds 475 feet.

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The 2021 Home Run Derby is at 8 p.m. EDT Monday at Coors Field in Denver. The event airs on ESPN. The 2021 MLB All-Star Game is at 7:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday on ESPN.

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