Scottsdale, AZ - Even though the wind was blowing out, I wasn’t expecting to see a lot of bombs during the Home Run Derby. After all, these kids are 13-16 years-old and we’re playing on a major league dimensioned field.
So we were pleasantly surprised to see such young players show so much power on Sunday night. Jason Padlo ended up winning the derby in a rout, slugging five home runs (worth three points each). He also hit one ball off the wall (two points) and three more (one point) that reached the wall on a bounce, giving Padlo 20 points and the runaway win. The Murrieta (CA) HS middle infielder represented the Murrieta Valley Hurricanes.
Padlo doesn’t stand out in street clothes, he’s about 5’10”, 160 lbs, but the ball just jumped off his righthanded bat. Padlo generates very good bat-speed and has iron in his hands. Some of his homers were no-brainers and even the ones that stayed in the park were screamers. It’s more impressive for a player of Padlo’s build to show power than a kid who looks like an NFL linebacker because that means there’s a lot more to come as he grows up. Padlo can hit the ball harder and farther than most 230-pounders.
Arizona Angels-White outfielder Gerard Hernandez had put on a 13-point show earlier and a lot of us thought he’d cake-walk to the crown. A rising sophomore from nearby North Canyon HS, Hernandez has had an outstanding tournament, showing perhaps the best bat all weekend. Like Padlo, Hernandez is less than physically imposing, about 5’10”, 180 lbs. Unlike Padlo, he’s a lefthanded hitter and there’s a little more lift to his swing. The 15 year-old showed natural power to all fields including center. Hernandez hit the ball as hard as anyone including Padlo and he could turn into a high draft pick come 2014. A lot can happen between now and then, but I doubt there are many hitters in the class who are as far along as he.
Here are the Top-5 Finishers in the 2011 Prospect Wire West Coast Finals 16U/14U Home Run Derby with the number of points earned: