3rd Annual Showcase – 2009

The top 70 high school baseball players from round the world convened in Tropicana Field to take part in the 3rd Annual International High School Power Showcase Home Run Derby January 2 -3, 2009. There was the perfect mixture of participants and parity in this year’ event. The Power Showcase featured 37 2009 graduates and 27 underclassmen. Amazingly the two youngest participants, Harper and Bichette, made it to the finals.
Christian Walker, a senior 3rd baseman from Kennedy-Kendrick High School in Norristown, PA, hit three home runs with a wood bat and seven more with metal to earn a spot in the finals, then after a 2009 Power Showcase Home Run Derby World Champion. Walker capped off the championship round with a Power Showcase high of four consecutive home runs. Walker also won two tie breakers to receive awards for Most Consecutive Home Runs (4) and Most Wood Bat Home Runs (3).
Joining Walker in the Championship Round were Ryan Gunhouse, a senior Catcher at Clear Creek HS in League City, Texas; Randal Grichuk, a senior Left Fielder at Lamar Consolidated HS in Rosenberg, Texas; Dante Bichette, Jr., a sophomore Shortstop at Orangewood Christian HS in Maitland, FL; and Bryce Harper, a Sophomore Catcher from Las Vegas High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While it was Walker who brought home the tiles, there were many individual participants well worth noting. Harper, the left-handed hitting Sophomore, brought the crowd to its feet with his 502 foot blast that landed over the Jumbo-Tron in right field and sailed over both catwalks., Harper’s home run was the longest ever in Power Showcase competition at Tropicana Field and earned him the coveted Babe Ruth Award, “Colossus of Clout 54 oz. Bat” that is given for the longest home run. It is the weight that Babe Ruth used in game play from 1916 to 1922. Babe used to hit over 500 foot home runs on a daily basis. A few even over 600 ft. One in particular at Battery Park in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Presenting the award was Linda Ruth Tosetti, the granddaughter of Babe Ruth.
Randal Grichuk performed extremely well as he came away from the event with two awards. Grichuk, a senior Left Fielder from Lamar Consolidated HS in Rosenberg, Texas;. won the award for Most Home Runs in a Round (12) and the Award for Overall Home Runs (20). He blasted several home runs into the upper deck in left field, the longest of which traveled 477 feet.
Ryan Gunhouse and Dante Bichette, Jr. both performed admirably in the Championship Round. Gunhouse finished third in overall home runs with 18.
Bichette’s 15 overall home runs earned him the IMG Baseball Academies award for Most Home Runs by an Underclassman. The IMG Undergraduate Award is for Most Overall Home Runs by a non-senior, 2011 (or higher) player
Other competitors received BamBooBat Award the official wood bat of the Power Showcase. Players receiving awards included Brett Sanders, Etobicoke Collegiate Institute in Ontario, Canada; Cody Geyer, a senior from North Buncombe HS in Weaverville, NC; and Chris Constantino, a senior from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, RI. Sanders and Geyer tied for Longest Wood Bat Home Runs (408 feet), and Costantino won a tiebreaker to receive the award for Most Consecutive Wood Bat Home Runs (2).
Athletes at this year’s World Championship were tested for performance-enhancing drugs. A major improvement at the 2009 IPS was the implementation of cutting-edge baseball technology. Greg Rybarczyk’s Hit-Tracker, as well as Perry Husband’s ”Stalker Gun″ technology were both on hand for this year′s event. Rybarczyk tracks the distance of home runs in each Major league ballpark, Hit Tracker uses the position of the landing point, the time of flight to that point, and the atmospheric conditions at the time of the hit (wind, temp, altitude) to recreate the precise trajectory the baseball took during its flight. Once this trajectory is determined, various parameters of interest can be provided, including the distance the ball travels and the speed in mph at the instant it left the bat. With assistance of this technology and Greg Rybraczyk, it was determined that Harper′s 502-foot home run would have flown out of Yankee Stadium.
Perry Husband, author of the Down Right Filthy Pitching Series and the Hitting is a Guess Video Series, said this year′s event was groundbreaking by adding exit velocity off the bat of the bombs these guys were landing. With the new technology provided by Stalker Radar, we were able to get a measurement on how hard the ball was leaving the bat. The two top velocities recorded by the ″Stalker Gun″ were Harper’s 502-foot home run (124.5MPH) and Grichuk’s 477-foot home run (122 mph). Husband provided a demonstration of the Hitting is a Guess video analysis of pitch recognition and swing mechanics.
U.S. Olympic and U.S. World Baseball Classic Manager, Davey Johnson, shared stories from his long baseball career, in which he won two World Series as a player and one more as a manager. Sharing his most memorable recollection came from Game 2 of the 1996 Series, in which, at age 23, he got a hit off Sandy Koufax. Koufax retired after that season, and Johnson’s hit turned out to be the last he allowed in his career.
Linda Ruth Tosetti - 5th Annual Power Showcase Guest Speaker Linda Ruth Tosetti, granddaughter of Babe Ruth, was the final speaker. She offered encouragement to the hitters, and described some of her famous grandfather’s ties to the St. Petersburg region. Notable was a long home run Ruth hit during spring training that was reported to have traveled more than 600 feet.
Participants took batting practice and executed running and fielding drills under the instruction of members of the New York Yankees spring training staff at their baseball complex in Tampa. Later that evening the Showcase participants gathered for a formal dinner and the presentation of their uniforms. The dinner began with opening remarks from Showcase President, Brian Domenico, who present a plaque to Van Conway, of Conway MacKenzie and Dunleavy, in appreciation for that firm’s sponsorship of the International Showcase Players.
2009 Power Showcase Event
Preston Overbey from Jackson, TN, drew the unenviable leadoff slot, and after coming up empty with the wood, he ripped the first of 271 total home runs in the showcase, a line drive to left-center field that narrowly cleared the fence. Overbey totaled three HR’s to set the early pace, and was matched in the lead by Tyler Garrone (PA) and Adam Walker II (WI) before Ryan Gunhouse(TX) broke out with 10 home runs, including two with his wooden bat. Matt Kirkland (TN) managed only three homers in all, but he hit the first of 16 homers to reach the upper deck in left field, and the first of 21 balls to hit a catwalk during the event.
Brett Sanders, representing Canada, racked up 7 home runs to jump into second place, including a 408-foot home run with his wooden bat, and a 478-foot blast with his metal bat that would stand up as the longest of the event for more than eight hours.
Jacob Mayers (VA) knocked three balls over the fence with his wood bat, and a total of seven, to move into a tie for second place. Christian Walker (PA) followed with three wood bat homers, and seven more with the metal bat, to move into a tie for the lead; his 10 home runs including a 468-footer to the upper level of the Power Alley Pub in deep center field.
Miles Head (GA) knocked nine homers to gain a place in the top five.
Tommy Joseph (AZ) crushed three home runs in his meal bat round that traveled more than 450 feet, including two to the upper deck and another 465-foot drive that hit the U.S. flag hanging in deep left-center field some 75 feet above the field level.
Dante Bichette, Jr. (FL) showed off his sweet swing by hitting two wood bat homers and nine more with the metal for a total of 11, to take the lead. Corey Davis(GA) got off to a slow start, but in the second half of his metal bat round, he ripped five long homers, including shots of 468, 464, and 455 feet.
Jayce Boyd (FL) tallied nine home runs, and Matt Conway (MI) smashed eight that averaged 435 feet.
Randal Grichuk (TX) forged into the lead with 12 homers, including two catwalk shots and four balls that reached the upper deck. His longest ball came off the bat at just over 122 mph, covered 477 feet and hit just above the Party Deck. Cody Geyer (NC) and Chris Marconcini (TN) each totaled seven homers, and Josh Leyland (CA) launched a 472-foot rocket into the roof of the restaurant in center field.
Like many of the hitters in the Showcase, Bryce Harper, (NV) wasn’t able to hit any home runs with his wood bat, but he showed a beautiful left-handed swing and hit several balls hard. Stepping back to the plate with his metal bat, Harper knocked his first homer 443 feet one line to the back of the right field seats. Three more unremarkable homers followed, but then over the next 60 seconds, Harper unleashed an awe-inspiring series of hits to areas of Tropicana Field few major leaguers have reached: 

460 feet to the top edge of the Jumbotron; 119 mph off the bat
484 feet to the stadiums back wall, 15 feet above the Jumbotron; 122 mph
485 feet to the back wall; 123 mph
405 feet on a blistering line drive; 118 mph
502 feet to the back wall, 20 feet above the top of the Jumbotron; 124.5 mph
477 feet to right-center field, 119 mph

That’s six home runs, averaging 469 feet and 121 mph off the bat — all struck by a 16-year old high school sophomore!

Harper hit 11 homers in all, enough to make the top Five Finalists and join Gunhouse, Walker, Bichette and Grichuk in the finals. Walker led off with nine homers, and Gunhouse followed with eight. Harper was able to hit only one more ball out. Grichuck scored eight homers including a 454-foot bomb, longest of the finals. Bichette hit last and scored four long balls, but when his last out landed on the warning track just short of the 370 sign in left field, the clock read 9:17 PM and Christian Walker had become the 2009 Power Showcase World Champion.