KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Major League Baseball's annual Home Run Derby shows what the long ball can do, and one high school slugger from the metro got his chance to shine; claiming his own piece of All-Star history.
Shawnee Mission East High School's Joey Wentz is coming home as a power hitting hero. The trip of a lifetime took him to the same stage as MLB's all stars are using: Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
Time after time, Wentz flew the friendly skies, walloping home runs, as a competitor in baseball's Junior Home Run Derby. On Sunday morning, he and seven other high school stars used the same field the big boys are this week.
Wentz made the most of the moment, cracking eight home runs in the contest. He says it was his first time ever stepping foot onto a major league diamond.
“I went out there thinking it was going to be a good experience,” Wentz said. “It was a lot of fun just to get on the field and be there and see what it's like to be an all-star.”
One of Wentz's long balls went a staggering 543 feet; longer than any of the big leaguers hit in their home run derby on Monday. Wentz says players in the high school contest were using juiced bats, which are against the rules under normal circumstances.
“I'm kind of awed by what he's been able to do so far,” Jenny Wentz, Joey’s mother, said. “He loves it and we're looking forward to seeing what he will do in the future.”
FOX 4 News caught up to the Wentz’s just as their flight was landing at Kansas City International Airport on Tuesday.
What's next for Wentz is an athletic scholarship to the University of Virginia. He's verbally committed to become a Cavalier once high school wraps up.
“I definitely like letting everyone know I'm from Shawnee Mission East and Kansas City,” Wentz said. “I'm always wearing my Royals stuff around. It's cool to have hit the longest one of the contest.”
Joey says his only regret is that he couldn't bring home his jersey and hat from Cincinnati. The NCAA says that would be a violation of high school amateur eligibility. He says he'll receive them as soon as he graduates from East.