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Home Run Derby: Kyle Schwarber, Pete Alonso are top seeds as Corey Seager joins field

Back-to-back Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso will begin his pursuit of a third title as the No. 2 seed in the eight-player bracket on Monday night at Dodger Stadium (5 p.m., ESPN).

The New York Mets first baseman will face seventh-seeded Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. in a rematch of their second-round showdown in the 2019 event in Cleveland. Alonso hit a buzzer-beating homer to eliminate Acuña en route to the first of his Derby wins.

Alonso, who has hit 23 homers this season and leads the National League with 72 RBIs, is just the third player in history to have won back-to-back Derby titles. A third straight would tie him with Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. for the most ever.

National League home run leader Kyle Schwarber is the top seed this year and will face eighth-seeded future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round.

Schwarber, who has 28 home runs this season, is making his second appearance in the Derby. He was A Chicago Cub when he finished second to current teammate Bryce Harper (then of the Washington Nationals) in 2018.

A Derby veteran, Pujols is participating for a fifth time, although he’s only ever reached the final once. Pujols is fifth in MLB history with 685 homers and has hit six so far this season in his return to the Cardinals, where he spent the first half of his career.

Former Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, named as an American League replacement for the All-Star Game earlier on Thursday, was revealed as the eighth participant during the bracket reveal show on Thursday. Seager is the No. 3 seed and will face seventh-seeded Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez.

Seager, who has 21 home runs in his first season since signing a $325 million, 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers as a free agent, is participating in the Derby for the first time since his rookie year in 2016. Rodriguez, who has hit 15 homers, will try to join Alonso and Aaron Judge as the only rookies to ever win the event.

Fifth-seeded Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez will be making his Derby debut with a first-round matchup against fourth-seeded Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.

Soto made his Derby debut last year and upset top-seeded Angels star Shohei Ohtani in a matchup that came down to a swing-off. He also hit the longest home run ever recorded at the Derby, a 520-foot shot.

Ramirez is in the midst of another stellar season with 17 homers and an AL-best 68 RBIs. He’ll try to become the first switch-hitter to win the Derby outright after Eric Davis tied for the 1989 crown. Ramírez has hit 14 of his homers as a left-handed hitter this season.

Ohtani declined an invitation to participate in the Derby this year, though he is still a possibility to be the starting pitcher for the AL in Tuesday’s game. He will be the starting designated hitter, regardless.

Each batter gets three minutes in the first two rounds to hit more home runs than his opponent before a two-minute final round. The winner will get $1 million of $2.5 million in prize money, the losing finalist will collect $500,000 and the six other participants will earn $150,000 apiece. The player with the longest home run will get an extra $100,000.

ROSTER CHANGES

Seager replaced Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer on the AL roster for Tuesday’s All-Star Game. It will be his third appearance in the game following selections in 2016 and ’17 while with the Dodgers. Seager entered Thursday with a .245 average, 21 homers and 48 RBIs.

The Rangers said Seager was an injury replacement for Springer. However, Springer was in the Blue Jays’ starting lineup for Thursday night’s game against Kansas City.

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