Opening Round

Home Run Derby – Opening Round

By Brian Gosset

Home Runs came in bunches as Day 2 came and went at the Pre-Qualifier for the 9th Annual POWER SHOWCASE at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Nov. 1.

Future Stars, consisting of some of the best players across the country ages 11-14, filed into the stadium during the chilly morning, ready to put on a show.

The third-base seats quickly filled up with players, family members and friends, all ready to witness a couple of long balls.

Domenico did a quick meet and greet with the youngsters before each one was introduced and ran out to Domenico for a picture at home plate.

After the players were separated down the first- and third-base lines, it was time for some November baseball.

The Future Stars were divided into two Home Run derbys. The first, classified as Rookies, were ages 11 and 12 while ages 13-16 fell under Advanced. Each batter would get 15 outs to hit as many Home Runs they could.

Texas’ own Blake Harmon (Briarhill) would bat second and be the first to five Home Runs, but Giani Gilch (PA) followed that up with 10, including four straight to begin his at-bat. Those two, along with Blaze Jordan (MS) would advance to Sunday’s championship round.

The Advanced competition had a few more highlights as Luke Nagy (TX) got things going with 11, including the day’s first big-boy Home Run to the outfield stands. It would be far from the last.

Mike Rodriguez (TX) hit 10 Home Runs to get into second place, but Hunter Richardson (MS) dropped him to third after hitting 11 to tie Nagy. Julian Colombo started off slow, but heated up to finish with the lead at 14.

Near the end of the round, Jose Gutierrez (TX) electrified the crowd once again with 12 Home Runs, putting him in second place. All four would move on to Sunday’s championship round.

“It means a lot to be here. My coach saw a picture of my jersey last night and just told me ‘way to represent, go make Texas proud.’” Nagy said. Nagy is a 13-year-old from Spillane in Cypress, Texas.

Michael Cooper would enlighten the future stars after the derby with his Human Performance Mentors program, teaching them mental strength and life-skills development. Cooper, who talked to the players during Friday night’s dinner, discussed everything from awareness, balance, emotions and life decisions.

During Cooper’s speech to the future stars, the Upperclassmen Derby was underway, which consisted of high school juniors. A little different from the previous derby, the upperclassmen received 20 outs, five with a wooden bat, 15 with metal, to hit as many homers they could.

Texas’ Adam Oviedo and Manuel Rios advanced to Sunday while Bryan Eberle (FL) and Dalton Reed (OK) joined them.

Reed would connect on a 426-foot homer to tie Oviedo for the group lead.

“To see Bryce Harper and the big names here and to be able to do it, it’s a privilege to represent my state,” Reed said.

The final event, the Features Showcase, pitted the top seniors while holding the same rules as the underclassmen.

Only a few were able to smack one out using the wood, one of which was Maxx Mahon, who finished with five Home Runs.

New York’s Ryan Coulon had the longest of the day, a 443-foot shot just above the Jackie Robinson sign in the left-field second deck.

Caleb Miley (CO) and Tanner Huddleston (MS) also hit signs deep in left-field to woo the crowd. Miley’s went 436 feet

Coulon, Mahon and Baylor Rowlett advanced to Sunday’s final.

The play of the night came with Canada’s Canice Ejoh. He wouldn’t hit one homer during his at-bat, but his fellow participants informed him that he didn’t use a BESR bat. After some discussion, the players allowed Ejoh to bat once more to end the night.

All future stars will battle in the championship round while the upperclassmen will join the features to compete for the high school title. Upon the finals, Sunday will also have the High School All-Star Game and Future Stars All-Star Game.

Brian Domenico founded the POWER SHOWCASE nearly a decade ago, in hopes to showcase the best baseball players around the world, under the lights at some of Major League’s finest ball parks.

Entering its first year in Arlington, POWER SHOWCASE has brought attention across the nation, in hopes to finding the next Mr. October.

Domenico’s first attempt in bringing the event to the majors came in 2008 when he took it to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Bryce Harper was the big hitter that year, reaching 502 feet, something Domenico calls, “the Home Run heard around the world.”

Of course, Harper would be featured on the Sports Illustrated cover just three months later. His YouTube video also hit 7-million views, something Domenico prides upon. One thing POWER SHOWCASE does well is the ability to produce quality highlight videos and throughout the years its videos have been viewed over 17-million times.

Chase Field in Phoenix and Marlins Park in Miami have also been host to the event.