Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Gwinnett Braves Stefan Gartrell swings for the ball during a recent game at Coolray Field.
Although the AAA All-Star Game isn’t until tonight in Salt Lake City, one of the three Gwinnett Braves who will play for the International League has already had a memorable trip.
Stefan Gartrell won the AAA Home Run Derby on Monday night, taking the $500 prize and receiving a retro jersey from former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, a Utah resident.
G-Braves teammate Mauro Gomez had five homers to three for Gartrell in the first round of the competition. But Gartrell advanced to the championship round with six, while Gomez had just two homers in the the second round.
Gartrell was matched in the final round against a Utah high school slugger, who benefited from being able to use an aluminum bat. Gartrell hit seven to take the title, hitting two more than 17-year-old Kayden Porter.
As handy as the extra $500 may be to have, the G-Braves outfielder seemed more excited about the autographed jersey and a chance to meet Murphy, who had his photo taken with Gartrell and Gomez.
“I was star-struck,” Gartrell told MLB.com.
Gartrell, who started the season in the Chicago White Sox organization before being traded to Atlanta, hit two homers on Sunday in the G-Braves’ final game before the All-Star break. That gave him 18 homers — tying the Gwinnett season record — and 100 for his minor league career.
Gartrell and Gomez will be joined on the IL team tonight against the Pacific Coast League by Gwinnett teammate Jose Constanza. Pitcher Julio Teheran was also selected, but he withdrew because he started the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Phoenix.
Gartrell was voted in as the started designated hitter for the IL. Gomez and Constanza are backups at first base and the outfield, respectively.
The game will be carried on the MLB Network at 9 p.m.
The IL won 2-1 last season at Lehigh Valley and 6-5 the year before in Portland. The AAA All-Star Game was first played in 1988.