Athlete advances to Jr. Home Run Derby finals at MLB World Series

Maddox Johnson wins the 12U Jr. Home Run Derby regional

Major League Baseball (MLB) Press Release On Sunday, Aug. 15, the Texas Rangers Youth Academy hosted the Dallas Regional Jr. Home Run Derby competition. Winners from first-round local competitions across Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana attended the event for their shot at the Regional Championship.

On April 24, the Texas Rangers Youth Academy hosted its local competition for Academy participants in the 12U and 14U age divisions. Over 50 kids attended the slugging competition, and 12-year-old Maddox Johnson Jr. won his division while posting the most impressive performance of the day. Johnson is the 12-year-old son of James C. Johnson and Amanda Pickens-Johnson of Dallas, and the grandson of John and Gilda Johnson of Natchitoches. During the local competition, Johnson set a Texas Rangers Youth Academy record for the most home runs hit in the 12U division, for a total of 11.

This article published in the Aug. 28, 2021, print edition

Leading up to the regional, Maddox and his dad spent hours in the batting cages preparing for the competition, focusing on the fundamentals and not doing too much to alter his swing. Last weekend, nearly 50 of the top home run hitters from the area were ready to swing for their chance to advance to the final round of competition at the MLB World Series. “After witnessing firsthand the show that Maddox put on during the local competition, I knew he would have a good chance at the regional,” said Juan Leonel Gárciga, Director of Youth Baseball & Academy Programs.

“The only question would be how he would respond to the pressure of knowing that the winner earns a trip to the World Series— at the end of the day, he is still a 12-year-old boy.” In addition to the All-Star lineup of participants, early morning rain meant the competition was shifting to the fully turfed Johnny Oates Field to allow for proper drainage. Despite the last-minute location chance and intimidating size of Oates Field, Johnson out swung the best of the best to become the Jr. Home Run Derby Dallas Regional Champion. Jonson hit a total of 13 home runs after both rounds of competition, beating his previous record of 11 home runs. Maddox will face the 12U winners from the other eight regions in the final round of the Jr. Home Run Derby at the World Series this October.

“Maddox and his father will have the experience of a lifetime with an all-expenses-paid trip to the MLB World Series, where he will compete in the finals,” said Gárciga. “He is as complete and polished a 12U hitter as I have seen. It isn’t just a raw power swing, but instead a very balanced compact swing that allowed him to drive many of his home runs to centerfield and even a couple out to right-center field.”

Maddox will represent the Texas Rangers Youth Academy and DFW in the final round of the 2021 Jr. Home Run Derby. And who knows, he may even pick up some pointers from his favorite slugger, Bryce Harper, at the World Series this October.