WASHINGTON -- It's fitting that the top high school prospect and the top prep power hitter will meet in the finals of the High School Home Run Derby.:: Complete Home Run Derby coverage ::Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. smacked 26 homers and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) shortstop
WASHINGTON -- It's fitting that the top high school prospect and the top prep power hitter will meet in the finals of the High School Home Run Derby.
:: Complete Home Run Derby coverage ::
Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. smacked 26 homers and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) shortstop Rece Hinds slammed 25 in two rounds, outlasting six other competitors. Witt and Hinds advance to Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby, where they won't be part of the official competition but will take swings with the big leaguers. That derby will air at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The son of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt, Witt Jr. is the leading candidate to go No. 1 overall in the 2019 Draft. Scouts love his all-around game, but it was his power that took center stage on Sunday. He tied for second with 15 homers (including six straight) in the three-minute first round and led all competitors with 11 (which came in the span of 12 swings, including seven straight homers) in the 90-second second round.
Witt said the key to his success was to have fun, because he thought that if he tensed up it would restrict his power. He can't wait to compete on Monday night alongside big leaguers such as Alex Bregman, Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman.
"I'm already jittery for it right now and I've got 24 more hours until I get to actually do it, or even more than that," said Witt, who's committed to Oklahoma, where his father played in college. "I don't even know what time it is right now, it's so surreal. I'm so excited and I heard the energy is awesome. Seeing it on TV, it gets loud, but being here will be something special."
Hinds, the consensus best power hitter in the 2019 high school class, topped all players with 17 homers in the first round and added eight more in the second round, peppering the seats in left field and left-center with his blasts. He blasted five balls onto the concourse behind the left-field stands and even hit a ball out one-handed after getting caught on his front foot.
A Louisiana State recruit, Hinds said he has made some adjustments this summer to add even more power, increasing his leg kick and adjusting his hands in his load. He was scheduled to compete in the High School Home Run Derby last year in Miami, but an ankle injury prevented him from attending.
"That was disappointing because I wanted to compete against the older guys," Hinds said. "It's just a blessing to be here, to move onto the next round. I'm looking forward to seeing [Javier] Baez tomorrow night. He's my favorite player, him and Manny Machado."
Hinds finished second despite wasting at least 10 seconds of his second round. Asked if had one more home run in him to match Witt on Monday night, he laughed and said, "Oh, I have more than one more homer left for Bobby."
Hagerty High (Oviedo, Fla.) outfielder Riley Greene finished third with 22 homers, while Providence High (Jacksonville, Fla.) third baseman Tyler Callihan and Airline High (Bossier City, La.) catcher Hayden Travinski tied for fourth with 21. Servite High (Anaheim, Calif.) outfielder Emanuel Dean and Berkeley (Calif.) Michael Dixon II each hit 18 homers, and The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) left-hander/first baseman Hunter Barco delivered 13.
If history is any indication, several of these sluggers will feature prominently in next year's Draft. Royce Lewis became the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 after participating in the 2016 high school derby, which also featured top-10-overall choices and 2018 Futures Gamers Jo Adell and Hunter Greene. Last year's derby included 2018 first-rounders Triston Casas, Nolan Gorman, Jarred Kelenic and Bo Naylor, with Gorman besting Naylor, 5-2, in the finals.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.