Current Bisons slugger Valentino Pascucci (left) and former Buffalo basher Mike Hessman -- the top two active leaders in career minor league home runs -- headline the participants for Monday night's Triple-A Home Run Derby in Coca-Cola Field, the Bisons announced today.
Pascucci will be joined by 2010 Derby champion Dan Johnson of Charlotte and Matt LaPorta of Columbus on the International League team. Hessman, who now plays for Oklahoma City, will lead the Pacific Coast League squad that also includes Round Rock's Joey Butler and Tacoma's Luis Jimenez.
Hessman (right) has slugged 354 home runs over parts of 16 seasons. Pascucci has 244 career minor league home runs in 13 seasons, including 51 over the past three years with the Bisons. Hessman hit 18 with Buffalo in 64 games in 2010 and leads the PCL with 25 this season. Pascuci leads the Bisons this year in home runs (13) and RBIs (51).
The sluggers will compete in a three-round derby to determine an overall Triple-A champion. Monday's event also includes appearances by The Famous Chicken and a Celebrity Home Run Derby that includes Bills Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Joe DeLamielleure, current Bills running back Fred Jackson, Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta, New England Patriots and Buffalo-native Rob Gronkowski, former Bills GM Bill Polian and Buffalo native and Hollywood-based writer Nick Bakay.
Johnson has 21 homers for Charlotte and is the only active IL player with 20 this year (Toledo's Brad Eldred hit 22 before leaving for Japan). LaPorta, who has shuffled between Columbus and Cleveland the last two years, was the top online votegetter in fan balloting for the game.
Among the other PCL players, Jimenez has hit 13 homers with a .530 slugging percentage in 75 games this year at Tacoma (Seattle) and has 134 career minor-league homers. Butler has 12 homers in 82 games for Round Rock (Texas) with a .469 slugging percentage.
Tickets remain for the Derby. They are $15 and are available at Bisons.com or by calling THE-HERD (716-843-4373). Fans can also purchase the All-Star Ticket Package for $35, which includes one ticket to the Home Run Derby and one ticket to the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday.
(Buffalo News file photos: James P. McCoy and John Hickey)