DURHAM, N.C.—Las Vegas first baseman Allan Dykstra (Mets) launched a 384-foot blast to right-center field to claim victory in the Triple-A home run derby on Monday night. He needed only one clout to win the exhibition because Omaha catcher Francisco Pena (Royals), his opposition in the third and final round, failed to go deep with his allotted five outs.
|TRIPLE-A HOME RUN DERBY
|Source: Zepp Labs swing analyzer tool|
Though he went out with a whimper in the final round, the 24-year-old Pena, who signed a big league deal with Kansas City last offseason and made his majors debut in May, otherwise starred at the event. Not only did he lead all competitors with a combined eight homers during rounds one and two, but Pena also hit the longest home run (416 feet) and registered the highest bat speed reading (96 mph) at the event, according to data collected by the Zepp Labs swing analyzer tool and displayed on the Durham Bulls Athletic Park scoreboard.
Despite the superlative single readings for distance and speed, Pena actually averaged the shortest distance (346 feet) overall on his derby home runs—not counting a 382-foot shot hit with a composite aluminum bat. When asked the following day if he knew about his best-in-show readings, Pena said that he was not aware, but conceded the swing analyzer would be a useful training tool to make use of with his hitting coach.
Dykstra averaged 375 feet on his blasts to rank second, while Columbus first baseman Jesus Aguilar (Indians), who signed with Cleveland as an international free agent in 2007, made his four homers count with an average distance of 393 feet to lead the field. His natural power stroke carried the ball to center and left-center field, where he walloped home runs estimated at 415, 400 and 395 feet. One Aguilar liner off the giant left-field scoreboard knocked out a square of the video display.
Indianapolis first baseman Matt Hague (Pirates) hit six total homers, including four in round two to briefly give him the lead until Dykstra surpassed him by one. Hague averaged 365 feet on his six homers. Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs (Diamondbacks) and Durham center fielder Mikie Mahtook (Rays) did not homer in the event, in which batters had eight outs to work with in rounds one and two, then five outs in round three. Additionally, batters had the option of hitting with a composite bat for their final out, an option that every player took, though only Pena went deep with the bat boost.
|TOP PEAK BAT SPEED AT DERBY
|Source: Zepp Labs|
Zepp Labs introduced its swing analyzer tool, which went on the market last November, to major league teams at spring training this year, but the Triple-A home run derby was the first time it had been used to collect data at a major event. (The tool also works to analyze golf and tennis swings.) Each derby participant affixed a small sensor unit, which weighs six grams, to the knob of his bat. The sensor collects more than 1,000 data points and relays those to a smartphone or tablet app, rendering the batter’s swing in three dimensions and capturing his bat path, hand speed and bat speed, among other things.
According to Zepp Labs data, the peak bat speed captured during the day was Dykstra’s 97 mph during pre-game warmups in the cage. (His derby-winner checked in at 91 mph.) Hague recorded the slowest bat speed on a derby home run at 81 mph.
Here are illustrative screen captures of Dykstra’s derby-winning home run in round three.