Wilmington, DE - The most common question asked by Blue Rocks fans since the team announced there would be a Hitting Challenge during Monday's festivities at the 2014 California League/Carolina League All Star Game, presented by Bank of America, has been: 'How does a hitting challenge work?' In an effort to please fans, the Blue Rocks are unveiling the details behind both the hitting challenge and the ensuing Home Run Derby that is slated for Monday, June 16.
The hitting challenge will feature 12 players - six from the California League and six from the Carolina League - competing as teams to prove once and for all which coast features the top Advanced-A hitters. Contestants will get 60 seconds to take as many swings as possible at targets that will be littered across Judy Johnson Field at Frawley Stadium. The idea will be to test participants' ability to hit the ball to certain portions of the playing surface.
A player will have to start his time at bat by laying down a successful bunt, then he can swing away to earn points for his team. A ball landing in the infield will be awarded 10 points, the outfield garners 20 points, off the fence or on the warning track gets that player's respective team 25 points, while a home run or a direct hit of a target is good for 50 points.
Targets will be plentiful, yet challenging to hit for the batters. They will all measure around 8'x8', but will come in different shapes and colors. Just to keep things interesting, the Blue Rocks will also have mascots roaming around the outfield, including familiar stadium characters and some fresh faces debuting for the All-Star Extravaganza. If a mascot manages to catch or field any ball hit in its direction, that batter's team will be deducted 10 points.
After all 12 batters have had their turn the points will be tallied and the league with the highest total will be proclaimed the top hitters in Advanced-A.
That sets the table for the Home Run Derby to follow. This event will feature three of the top power prospects from each league, but they will not be competing as a team. No, this spectacle of pure strength will be all about individual glory.
The derby will feature two rounds. In the opening flight each participant will get 10 outs to hit as many homers as possible. Standard Home Run Derby rules will apply, meaning that anything over the fence in fair territory is a dinger and everything else resulting from a swing is an out. The top three mashers from the first round will advance to the finals. In the championship round hitters will get eight outs to add to their total. The winner will be the man who hits the most dingers total over the two rounds.
Of course the Rocks have already announced that they are the first Minor League baseball club to host a Home Run Derby where players bat from the outfield and try to hit the ball into the stands behind where home plate normally resides. Fans will have the opportunity to catch any dingers off of the sluggers' bats as the Blue Rocks will flip the field at Frawley Stadium. A new batting cage will be installed in center field and derby contestants will be awarded home runs by hitting balls into the seating area.
If that was not enough to wet your whistle for the event, there is also the knowledge that while fans are enjoying the event they will also be raising money for a great cause. Thanks to the Blue Rocks partnership with Bank of America the organizations will be donating $4 to the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware for every ticket sold to the 2014 California League/Carolina League Hitting Challenge at Frawley Stadium.
"We have received a great deal of positive publicity regarding the special nature of this Hitting Challenge and Home Run Derby so we are expecting that buzz to lead to a huge crowd," said Blue Rocks general manager Chris Kemple. "Thanks to our partnership with Bank of America we can make this event about more than just providing Delaware sports fans with a night to remember, but about raising money for an outstanding cause."
Now a potential souvenir is not the only thing fans will be able to take home from the ballpark that night, they will also have the knowledge that half of their price of admission went directly toward the more than 25,000 children in all areas of the state who benefit from the work done by the Boys & Girls Club. Kemple said that up to $28,000 can be raised and that none of it would be possible without the support of Bank of America.
"We're excited to be working with the Blue Rocks on an event that will ultimately help support an organization that connects our youth to opportunities they may not otherwise have," said Chip Rossi, Delaware president, Bank of America. "The bank has been a long-time supporter of the Boys & Girls Club. By combining the excitement of the hitting challenge with the ability to support families in Delaware - it will be opportunity for everyone to enjoy."
Blue Rocks Baseball = AffordaFUNability!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.