DENVER — Jade Smoot, outfielder for the Colorado Cyclones, was a last-minute write-in for the 2019 Home-Run Derby at Regency Athletic Complex on Tuesday evening.
“It’s crazy, one of my teammates backed out,” Smoot said. “He played in the All-Star game and didn’t want to do it (the home-run derby). I was the next person he asked to do it. So yeah, I wouldn’t have even done it if they didn’t ask me after that.”
The Lindon, Utah native and Taft College alum blasted 20 homers to win the contest over Cyclones teammate Gavin Gifford.
“It was such a fun last round, especially going up against a teammate,” Smoot explained. “He (Gavin Gifford) is a competitor. Credit to him, he gave me everything I had.”
He felt the derby was indicative of the ability the Cyclones possess, even on an off-day.
“We have a lot of talent on this roster,” Smoot said. “We haven’t necessarily shown it every time we have played, but we’re really looking forward to the second half of the season.”
How was Smoot, a William Jewell College commit (Liberty, Missouri) able to get comfortable in a new place so quickly?
His relationship with Cyclones head coach JL Buchanan.
“JL (Buchanan) was my coach at Taft College in California. He’s the hitting coach there and he’s done wonders with me. It was a no brainer for me to come play here in the summer.
“So, after I found out I would be in it, I worked with JL (Buchanan) a little bit,” Smoot said. “I also worked with some teammates too. Just trying to get that ball to lift and get that into my routine.”
Smoot has helped guide the Cyclones to a 10-4 start to the season, atop of the MHCBL.
“It’s been real fun playing in this league,” he said. “We had some crappy weather to start, but the ball flies a little better here than in California. Plus, there’s familiar faces here, not just with JL (Buchanan). It’s a great fit and I’m happy I came out here.”
The derby crown is something Smoot will look to use to guide him as the regular season winds down.
“I want to use the momentum personally going into the second half.” Smoot said. “Obviously, a batting practice swing is a lot different than an in-game swing. You can’t swing out of your butt every time. It’s a confidence booster and was so much fun to be a part of.”
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