Jose Bautista, a Hillcat in 2003, has now played seven seasons in the big leagues with five different teams. None of those seasons however, could compare to what he accomplished last year in Toronto.
For 51 games back in 2003, Jose Bautista proudly sported the Green & Gold here in Lynchburg. He hit just .242 with 4 homeruns and 20 RBI, but made such an impression the following spring that he spent all of 2004 bouncing around the Majors. He played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Every season since 2004 has seen Bautista in the big leagues. Over the past seven years he has racked up 113 Major League homeruns, nearly half of which came in his remarkable 2010 campaign. After hitting 59 homeruns over his first six seasons as a Major Leaguer, he exploded for 54 long balls in 2010. That monstrous number led all of baseball. In fact, Albert Pujols had the next most with 42. It was the first time since 2007 that the 50-homerun mark had been cracked (Alex Rodriguez 54, Prince Fielder 50).
Hillcats Assistant General Manager, Ronnie Roberts, said, "[Bautista] was only with the team for 51 games, and was hurt some of the time. We had always heard he had great potential, but it's hard to imagine he would hit 54 homeruns one day."
To go along with an abundance of tape measure shots, Bautista drove in 124 runs (3rd in MLB) and collected 351 total bases (T-1st in MLB). These staggering totals convinced his current club, the Toronto Blue Jays, to sign him to a 5-year contract extension worth $64 million.
Bautista's 2010 season may have been the greatest a former Hillcat has ever compiled, but there are others in the conversation. Relief pitcher Matt Capps locked up 42 Saves with a 2.47 ERA in 2010, Aramis Ramirez hit .291 with 38 homers and 119 RBI in 2006, and Nate McLouth was a 20-20 man in 2008 (26 HR, 23 SB).
Other notable accomplishments at the Major League level include Bronson Arroyo's 15+ Wins in each of the past three seasons. He was also a part of that magical 2004 World Series run by the Boston Red Sox. Zach Duke, another starting pitcher, was named to the 2009 All-Star team for the Pirates, and speedster Nyjer Morgan swiped 42 bases between the Pirates and Nationals, also in 2009.
As you can see there have been a number of former Hillcats experiencing success at the Major League level, however, none with the attention that Bautista received last season as he ran away with the 2010 homerun crown.
"We always root for former Hillcats," Roberts continued. "I was very happy for [Bautista]."
The Hillcats would like to congratulate Jose Bautista on an outstanding 2010 season and wish him and the rest of the Lynchburg alumni more of the same success in 2011.
Come check out tomorrow's stars at Lynchburg City Stadium this year. Single game tickets, season tickets, book tickets and nightly skybox rentals are all currently on sale for the 2011 season. The home opener is slated for April 15th at 6:05 p.m. when the Hillcats welcome the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to town. They can be purchased by calling the box office at (434) 528-1144 or online. Ticket purchases can also be made in person at the Lynchburg City Stadium Ticket Office (Mon.-Fri., 9AM- 5PM). Don't miss out on the excitement of the 2011 season as we turn the Hill City into Braves Country!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.