Pete Alonso is already taking the MLB by storm, but he has made it clear he wants to perform on one of the biggest stages in the game: The 2019 Home Run Derby.
Alonso's natural power bat would be a perfect fit for the competition, but should he be scared of the Derby curse? Some players don't participate in it due to their swings potentially getting messed up from trying to put the ball over the fence.
Well, a player that was in Alonso's exact shoes two years ago in Yankees OF Aaron Judge doesn't believe Alonso should think that way. He wants to see him at the Progressive Field plate come All-Star weekend participating in the Derby.
"It was a lot of fun," Judge told Newsday's David Lennon, talking about his Home Run Derby experience. "I enjoyed it and I'd recommend it for him. After seeing his swing, he's going to do pretty well in it. I know that."
Alonso's interest must be matched by the league, who should be sending out invitations soon for the Derby. His 19 dingers on the season, though, should see one of those invitations extended his way.
However, there is something to take caution of when looking back at Judge's 2017 Derby. The towering slugger may have won the competition, but he sustained a shoulder injury during it which led to a down second half compared to his surging first.
But Alonso isn't too worried about that.
"Well, I mean, my thing is just hit the ball hard," he told Newsday's Tim Healey. "That's it. Home Run Derby, that's just going to be the same thing I do every day. I'm a big, strong guy. I'm going to do the best I can to stick with it, you know? Stick with my same swing."
As Alonso points out, his mission at the plate is to always hit the ball hard, and he's been succeeding at that this season. His hard hit rate is 46.4 percent, which is top 50 in the league. And even more impressive is his barreled balls per plate appearances of 12.3 percent. That's sixth in the entire MLB.
So there won't be any swing changes that Alonso has to make to make a run at the Derby title. He just needs to step in the box and treat it like he has all his at-bats this season.
"I don't want to manipulate my swing, how I get to the baseball," he said. "I don't want to change anything -- swing, mechanics, or anything -- for the Derby. I want to stay exactly who I am. I just want to trust my regular swing, which plays in a Derby. If I hit enough balls hard enough, I feel like they're going to carry over the fence."
The same goes for Judge, whose long, powerful swing was destined for Derby greatness. He has won back-to-back titles, but has made it known that he won't be participating again unless it takes place in New York.
Now Alonso can take over as the next New York rising star to sit atop the Derby throne. Judge recalled his time out there with the screaming fans wondering at the moonshots he filled the seats with. And while the spectacle of seeing ball after ball travel over 400 feet, Judge knows the heat of the competition is the best part.
"It's a competition, you know?" Judge said. "So any time you're competing, the adrenaline's going to be flowing a little bit. So that adds to it, and the crowd gets into it. And I think I was getting booed the whole time I was there, going up against the hometown guys."
The hometown guys Judge is talking about are Justin Bohr and now-teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who he took down in Miami for his first Derby win. And that pool of power bats that included Gary Sanchez and Cody Bellinger, too, could be rivaled by this year's field.
With a new $1 million prize to the winner, why wouldn't the best sluggers in the game want to participate? Even if the money wasn't there, Alonso would be the first to put his name in the running if he could right now. Like Judge said, he has the swing for it, and Alonso knows it as well.
But the rookie knows that whether he gets crowned champion or not, it will still be an amazing experience.
"Winning it, not winning it, I mean, just being there is going to be an honor," Alonso said. "I'm going to have probably the most fun time there. If I hit zero home runs or all of the home runs, it's going to be a blast."