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MJ Melendez Earns 2021 Joe Bauman Award

October 4, 2021 - Triple-A East League (AAA East) - Omaha Storm Chasers News Release


PAPILLION, Neb. - MJ Melendez has won the 2021 Joe Bauman Award, given to the player with the most home runs in Minor League Baseball, Minor League Baseball announced Monday.

Melendez finished the season with 41 home runs, recording the 17th 40+ home run season in Minor League Baseball since 1990 and the first since 2016. His 41 home runs are the most in a single season since 2014, when Kris Bryant hit 43. He is the first primary catcher since Todd Greene (40, 1995) to hit at least 40 home runs in a single season and lead Minor League Baseball in homers.

"It's an honor to earn the Joe Bauman Award because I look at Minor League Baseball and the amount of good hitters and it's amazing to finish the season at the top of that list," Melendez said. "There are so many guys that I watch and catch against throughout the season and the amount of talent in Minor League Baseball right now is incredible. It's very humbling to be at the top of that list and I'm grateful for my teammates and coaches that pushed me throughout the season."

The 22-year-old joins Chris Hatcher (46, 1998), Craig Brazell (39, 2007), and Mike Moustakas (36, 2010) as Omaha players to lead Minor League Baseball in home runs during a season in which they played for Omaha. He joins Brazell and Moustakas as Omaha players to earn the Joe Bauman Award, which was first awarded in 2002.

"MJ was able to turn his impressive power into big time production this year over his two stops at Northwest Arkansas and Omaha to hit 41 home runs, which is a tremendous accomplishment for a player of any age, much less just 22 years old," JJ Picollo, Royals Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager, said. "He is a prime example of hard work and dedication to his craft, making adjustments to his approach at the plate, and seeing it pay off. We're excited as an organization to watch MJ continue to thrive on the field."

Of his 41 home runs between Double-A (28) and Triple-A (13), 30 came as a catcher, seven as a designated hitter, and four as a third baseman. He recorded five multi-home run games, including two with the Storm Chasers.

Melendez began his season with two home runs on Opening Day with Double-A Northwest Arkansas en route to hitting 28 home runs in 79 games with the Naturals prior to his promotion to Triple-A. At the time of his promotion, Melendez led all Double-A players in home runs and was second in Minor League Baseball, trailing Miami Marlins prospect Griffin Conine, who had 29 and finished the season with 36.

Prior to his promotion, he was named Double-A Central Player of the Month for July after earning Double-A Central Player of the Week honors three times in a four-week span, hitting 12 home runs in 27 games to set the Northwest Arkansas Naturals record for the most home runs in a single month.

The 22-year-old hit his first Triple-A home run in his Triple-A debut on Aug. 11 vs. Iowa before smacking his 30th home run of the season on Aug. 13 vs. Iowa, a game-tying solo home run as part of back-to-back home runs with Ryan McBroom.

Melendez tied Conine for the Minor League lead with his 31st home run of the season on Aug. 18 vs. Columbus before enduring a seven-game homerless streak, tied for his second-longest of the season and his longest in Triple-A. He blasted back into the home run column with his first multi-homer game at the Triple-A level on Aug. 27 at Iowa, going 4-for-4 with two home runs, a triple, four RBIs, and a walk to reach base in five plate appearances. He kept pace with Conine by hitting his 34th home run of the season on Aug. 31 vs. Toledo, his 35th of the year on Sept. 3 vs. Toledo, and his 36th of the season on Sept. 9 at St. Paul.

Melendez took the Minor League lead in home runs for good on Sept. 12 at St. Paul with his 37th home run of the season and ninth at the Triple-A level. Five games later, Melendez recorded his 38th of the year and 10th at the Triple-A level with a grand slam on Sept. 18 vs. Iowa. He launched his 39th home run of the season on Sept. 23 vs. Indianapolis before eclipsing 40 home runs with his 40th and 41st of the year in a two-homer game on Sept. 26 vs. Indianapolis in the final home game of season for Omaha.

In addition to leading Minor League Baseball in home runs (41), Melendez finished the year second in Minor League Baseball in RBIs (103), fourth in extra-base hits (66), and fourth in OPS (1.011).

Ticket packages for the 2022 season, as well as Chasers Blue Books and undated voucher packs, are available for purchase through the Werner Park Ticket Office. For more information, visit omahastormchasers.com or call the Werner Park Ticket Office at (402) 738-5100 and follow the team on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


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