All-Star notebook | Fort Myers' Walker cruises to home run derby title

jlembo@bradenton.comJune 14, 2014 

The 2014 Florida State League All-Star Game was held Saturday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. JOHN LEMBO/Bradenton Herald

BRADENTON -- He may have been the favorite heading into Saturday's Florida State League Home Run Derby.

But that was the furthest thing from Adam Brett Walker's mind as he stepped into the McKechnie Field batter's box roughly 90 minutes before the scheduled start of the league's 53rd All-Star Game.

"I was trying to come in," he said, "and have some fun."

The Fort Myers Miracle outfielder did just that, winning the derby by outscoring Daytona's Bijan Rademacher 36-23 in the finals.

Walker was just as dominant during his 35-point performance in the first round, hitting a number of blasts either into or over the left-field bleachers.

Hitters were awarded two points for each home run and one point for every ball hit over an auxiliary fence a few feet in front of the warning track. The top two finishers in the first round advanced to the finals.

The Tampa's Dante Bichette Jr. got the derby off with a bang by scoring 29 points before he was eclipsed by Walker, who hit fourth.

"I was trying not to worry about score," Walker said. "I just wanted to do the best I could and come out on top. If I could do the best I could, and I didn't win, I still would have had a great time."

Walker leads the league with 14 home runs in 64 games, and he won the Midwest League's home run title last year with 27.

Rademacher entered the derby with three home runs in 173 at-bats with the Cubs before his left-handed swing accounted for 33 points in the first round to eliminate Bichette and reach the finals.

Bradenton's Josh Bell finished with 23 points.

"I just want to keep working," said Walker, a third-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2012, "and hopefully get to the big leagues."

LATE ADDITION -- Marauders reliever Josh Smith was added to the South Division's roster Saturday morning.

Smith is 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 16 games for Bradenton with three saves.

Smith joins Bradenton teammates Bell, Bryton Trepagnier and Orlando Castro on the South Division's roster. Trepagnier and Castro are also pitchers.

CONTINUED DOMINANCE? -- The South Division has won the last two all-star games and three of the past four, and a Marauder has been named the game's MVP in two of the past three games: Aaron Baker in 2011 and Alen Hanson last year.

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