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Bryant edges Gallo for Minors homer crown

Top Cubs prospect's 43 roundtrippers best defending champ by one
September 2, 2014

Joey Gallo gave himself a chance to defend his throne, but now, it's Kris Bryant's turn to wear the Minor League home run crown.

Gallo -- who led the Minors with 40 home runs in 2013 -- went long in Double-A Frisco's 7-0 win over Midland on Monday for his 42nd long ball of the season. But the roundtripper left him one shy of Bryant, who finished with 43 in his first full professional season.

The Cubs' top prospect -- slugged No. 43 on Aug. 24, and remained there through his final regular-season game with Triple-A Iowa on Monday. The third baseman hit 22 dingers while posting a .355 average in 68 games with Double-A Tennessee before clubbing 21 more with a .295 average in 70 games with the I-Cubs.

The 22-year-old is the first Minor Leaguer to hit 43 since then-Angels prospect Brandon Wood clubbed that many between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Salt Lake in 2005.

Bryant will receive the Joe Bauman Home Run Award for his achievement, earning a trophy and a check for $8,600 -- $200 for each of his home runs. Recent Bauman winners include Gallo, Philadelphia's Darin Ruf and former I-Cub Bryan LaHair.

Gallo spent the last week playing catch up to Bryant. The Rangers' top prospect smacked a long two-run shot in the first inning Monday.

The 20-year-old won the Minor League home run crown in 2013 when he became the first teenager to hit 40 homers in 51 years. He eclipsed that mark this season while splitting time between Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and Frisco.

The power wasn't a surprise from Gallo this year, but the infielder showed improvement across the board offensively early on, improving his average, strikeout rate and walk rate with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. In 58 games with the Pelicans, Gallo batted .323 with 21 homers, crediting his improved approach to an offseason spent with 20-year Major League veteran Jason Giambi.

When Gallo reached the 40-homer mark in 2013, he was the first Minor Leaguer to hit the milestone since Dallas McPherson slugged 42 for Triple-A Albuquerque in 2008. Behind Bryant and Gallo, Double-A Reading's Jake Fox (38) and Class A Advanced Stockton's Matt Olson (37) also threatened to hit 40 this season.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.