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HR Derby to feature brackets, timed rounds

This month's 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders is getting a significant makeover.

It was announced last month that this year's Home Run Derby, set to be held July 13 at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park as part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will now play out as a bracket-style, timed event. The eight-player field, which is still to be determined, will be organized into a single-elimination bracket, lasting three rounds.

Instead of a set number of "outs" per round, each player this year will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. A running clock will begin counting down upon release of the first pitch, though it will stop for any home run hit during the final minute. The clock will stop immediately after those home run balls land and will not begin again until a non-home run ball lands or the batter swings and misses.

Hitters will also be awarded bonus time for showcasing some extra pop. Contestants will receive an additional minute of swings if they hit two home runs projected to land 420 feet during a single turn, as well as another 30 seconds if they hit a blast of at least 475 feet. All distances will be measured using Statcast™.

"I'm up for change, so we'll see how it goes," said Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, who finished second in the 2014 Home Run Derby at Target Field in Minneapolis. "It's in a good park for home runs and I'll be ready."

As for the tournament format itself, the eight competing players will be seeded Nos. 1-8 based on their season home run total as of July 7. In the event of matching totals, the first tiebreaker will be the number of home runs hit since June 15 followed by, if necessary, a coin flip.

Tweet from @MLB_PR: 2015 Gillette HR Derby presented by Head & Shoulders introduces new format, featuring brackets & timed rounds.

If there are any head-to-head ties during the event itself, the two batters will compete in a 90-second swing-off during which the clock will not stop nor will any bonus time be awarded. The player with more home runs during those 90 seconds will advance to the next round.

To streamline the event even further, any round will immediately end in the event that the second hitter surpasses the first hitter's home run total for that round.

Should Yoenis Cespedes participate, he would be vying to become the first player to win the event three consecutive years. The Derby field appears wide open with Giancarlo Stanton, the MLB home run leader with 27, sidelined 4-6 weeks after going wrist surgery last month.

Video: HRD: Cespedes wins 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @paul_casella.