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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the second year in a row, an Albuquerque Isotopes slugger has led Minor League Baseball in home runs to capture the Joe Bauman Home Run Award, presented by Musco Sports Lighting. Mitch Jones of the Isotopes and Jon Gaston of Lancaster tied for the Minor League Baseball lead with 35 regular season homers. The first tiebreaker to decide the winner is RBIs. Jones was declared the winner by virtue of driving in three more runs (103-100) than Gaston.
Jones will receive the Joe Bauman Trophy and a check for $7,000, representing $200 for each homer he hit, at the Baseball Winter Meetings ™ in Indianapolis in December.
Gaston had a one homer lead over Jones entering play on Labor Day, the last day of the regular season for each player. The 31-year-old Jones hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of the Isotopes 7-2 win over Iowa. He was then removed from the game in a double switch. Gaston, who had hit three homers in his previous four games to assume the lead, went 0-for-3 with a walk in his final regular season contest.
The 2009 Minor League season was the 10th in Jones' career. The Lehi, Utah, resident was a seventh-round pick by the New York Yankees out of Arizona State University in the June 2000 First-Year Player Draft. Jones signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in January 2007. The Dodgers then sold him to the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese League that June.
After a year in Japan, Jones returned to the Dodgers, hitting 16 homers in 54 games for their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League. Los Angeles then switched its top affiliate to the Isotopes (PCL) following the 2008 season.
Jones entered the 2009 season with 200 Minor League home runs, the most by an active player who had never appeared in a Major League game. He finally made his Major League debut in June, hitting .308 in eight games for the Dodgers.
The top home run hitter in each classification level, provided he is not the overall winner, receives $500.