MLB will scour the U.S. for top slugging talent featuring boys and girls in the 14-and-under age bracket. Local competitions will be run in various cities around the country, followed by regional finals that MLB will run in several key markets -- similar to the Pitch, Hit & Run process. Winners of the regional tournaments will be flown to All-Star Week to participate in the national finals, which will probably be held at Petco Park in 2016.
"The Junior Home Run Derby is something we're going to put together for the All-Star Game, and it's going to be a big deal," said MLB senior vice president of youth programs Tony Reagins. "We're going to try to get a collection of young talent there from around the country to display their power in an environment centered around the All-Star Game. It's another way that kids can play baseball and have fun, so you can look for some energy and some excitement with the long ball."
Full details of the free program will be available in early 2016, and it is safe to say that a lot of kids will be swinging for the fences.
The overall winner will be recognized at the MLB Home Run Derby, and an eventual photo will be taken with the MLB champion and the high school champion. Reagins said the success of that high school Home Run Derby during the most recent All-Star Weeks was the genesis for Junior Home Run Derby.
"We're hoping to capitalize on that," Reagins said. "We also did the Youth Hitting Challenge during All-Star Week in Cincinnati, and there was a lot of interest there, a lot of energy and excitement, so we felt if we can grow that and make it a little bit more exciting, we'll take our shot at it. Once all the details are available, we'll promote it more aggressively. Right now I think it's going to be a good event."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.