The Magic of a Jr. Home Run Derby

See you at the All-Star Game!

Sue Pierce

| 3 min read

Justin De la Cruz

Ask any kid what their favorite part of playing baseball or softball is. The answer is almost always the same – hitting. It’s challenging, it’s stressful, but above all, it’s fun. And what’s better than the sound of the bat launching a ball into the outfield? 

Of course, MLB knows kids love to hit. Their popular Jr. Home Run Derby centers on one goal: to hit as many dingers as possible. Each year, kids across the country try to do just that. 

The rules

Participants get 25 pitches OR a time-limit of three minutes – whichever comes first – to hit as many home runs as they can. A pitching machine is usually used for consistency, though not required. For this event, a home run in the baseball division must fly 200 feet; a softball needs to travel 170 feet. Specific bat regulations keep the playing field even.  

The players

Kids between ages 12 and 16 can participate in a Jr. Home Run Derby. Baseball has two groups: 12U and 14U. Softball has 14U and 16U. Boys and girls can compete in either sport, as long as it’s the sport they already play.   

The reason

We’ll say it again – it’s fun! Kids get to show off their hitting skills and compete against their peers. Who doesn’t love that? There’s no pressure of a game – just a healthy, happy competition. MLB started this event to increase kids’ participation in baseball across the country. This year, they opened it up to softball, encouraging even more kids to take part.   

The set-up

Anyone involved in a baseball or softball organization can host a Jr. Home Run Derby. That means coaches, league directors, even parents. Registration is done online and all hosts get vetted. Really, all that is needed is balls and a way to mark the distance on the field, though it’s fun to have an actual fence to swing for. MLB provides flashy branded graphics to help hosts promote their event. 

Jr. Home Run Derby events usually happen between March and June. The last weekend of local competitions in 2022 is MLB’s PLAY BALL Weekend – happening this year on June 11-12. Winners from local events move on to regional qualifiers, then finals. The national finals are held during MLB All-Star weekend in July. The kids who make it there get to compete on the same baseball diamond as their MLB idols.

How’s that for magic? 

Prep with MLB + MOJO

Players don’t rise through the ranks of the Jr. Home Run Derby or Pitch, Hit & Run competitions by accident. It takes practice! 

Now, in the MOJO app, coaches have access to the official Pitch, Hit & Run and Jr. Home Run Derby practice plans from MLB. 

When you go to plan your practice on the SCHEDULE tab, tap SELECT A FOCUS AREA. Then tap Jr. Home Run Derby or Pitch Hit & Run, and you’ll find the practice plan that’s appropriate for your age group.

You can also choose the practice plan you want by tapping BROWSE from an existing practice.

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