SAN DIEGO -- Kyle Petty has already hit 10 home runs this season, but the 22 balls he crushed Monday night followed a trajectory unlike any of his previous jacks.
"There's not really many chances you get to hit a baseball and watch it disappear into the ocean," the Mariners infield prospect said, "so you just want to embrace it and take it all in."
Petty won the Midway Classic -- a home run derby between the California League and Carolina League aboard the USS Midway in San Diego hosted by the Lake Elsinore Storm ahead of the two circuits' All-Star clash at The Diamond on Tuesday.
• View photos from the Midway Classic Home Run Derby »
"Probably the coolest and one of the more fun things I've ever gotten to do," he said.
The Bakersfield Blaze first baseman outslugged fellow California Leaguers Dawel Lugo of the Visalia Rawhide, Chris Shaw of the San Jose Giants and Travis Demeritte of the High Desert Mavericks, and also beat Carolina Leaguers Aderlin Rodriguez of the Frederick Keys, Drew Ward of the Potomac Nationals, and Yu-Cheng Chang and Bobby Bradley of the Lynchburg Hillcats.
The derby involved three rounds of 10 swings for each player still in the competition with five-swing tiebreaker rounds, and the sluggers swatted balls from the bow of the Midway into waters where volunteers on jet skis gathered the goners. A signal man waved a pair of flags in the air when balls cleared markers in the water.
"They've been making a bunch of jokes about how the balls fly [in the California League] better than pretty much anywhere else, so I'm kind of getting the impression the ball just takes off around here," No. 3 Indians prospect Bradley said. "[It felt like that] a little bit."
Petty and Lugo matched each another with six homers in the semifinal round, requiring a tiebreaker to see who would advance to the final against Rodriguez, who outhomered Bradley, 6-5, in the semis. Petty won out with two on five swings, but it came at a cost.
"After the tiebreaker round, I was absolutely exhausted," he said. "That's a lot of swings at one time. I said to one of the guys, 'I've never taken 10 swings 100 percent like that right in a row.' I was a little winded, but I got a little break."
His fatigue didn't show in the least. After Rodriguez belted four in the final round, the 25-year-old native of New Jersey matched that with his first four swings, then passed him and wound up with eight in the round.
No. 20 Rangers prospect Demeritte, who leads Class A Advanced with 18 long balls through 67 games, swatted five in the first round, but was topped by Lugo in the evening's first tiebreaker.
"I just mishit a couple balls, and it could have been a difference-maker, but my goal wasn't to come out here and win," the 21-year-old second baseman said. "It was to come out here and have fun and mix and mingle with some of the guys and just enjoy my time being here."
Players and fans mingled on the deck of the USS Midway, once the world's largest ship. (Josh Jackson/MiLB.com)
"I had a great time going up against some of the best talent in our league and also the Carolina League. Those guys have got some power. It's going to be great to see what these guys do in action tomorrow. I feel like it's going to be a fun game. It's going to be a good one."
Bradley, who leads the Carolina League with 15 homers over 64 games, fell one short of Rodriguez's six in the semifinal round.
"It was a ton of fun. Just a great experience," the 20-year-old first baseman said. "It was my first time ever hitting a ball off a boat in general, so I was just having a lot of fun with it."
He was also impressed with the show Petty put on.
"Oh, he can hit," Bradley said.