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Royals' Melendez claims 2021 Joe Bauman Award

No. 67 prospect is first catcher to finish as MiLB Home Run King
MJ Melendez was the Royals second-round selection in the 2017 Draft out of Westminster Christian HS in Miami. (Minda Haas Kuhlman/Omaha Storm Chasers)
October 4, 2021

NEW YORK -- Kansas City Royals prospect MJ Melendez launched 41 home runs to claim the Joe Bauman Award as Minor League Baseball’s 2021 home run king. The award, first presented in 2002, is named for Joe Bauman, who set a then-professional record with 72 home runs in 1954 while

NEW YORK -- Kansas City Royals prospect MJ Melendez launched 41 home runs to claim the Joe Bauman Award as Minor League Baseball’s 2021 home run king.

The award, first presented in 2002, is named for Joe Bauman, who set a then-professional record with 72 home runs in 1954 while playing for the Roswell Rockets of the Class-C Longhorn League.

“It’s an honor to earn the Joe Bauman Award because I look at Minor League Baseball and the number of good hitters and it’s amazing to finish the season at the top of that list,” said Melendez. “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.”

Melendez began the season by hitting 28 home runs in 78 games with the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals before an August 9 promotion to Triple-A Omaha. Melendez didn’t miss a beat following the promotion, hitting 13 more homers in 44 games for the Storm Chasers.

During a 40-game stretch from July 2 through August 18, Melendez did not go more than three games without a home run, hitting 18 homers during the span. He homered twice in a game six times and homered in consecutive games five times. Melendez topped his previous career high in home runs (19 in 2018 with Wilmington) with his 20th homer on July 21 at Tulsa. He posted seven homers in May, six in June, 12 in July, six in August and seven in September/October.

Melendez, 22, was selected by the Royals in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2017 Major League Draft out of Westminster Christian High School in Miami, Florida.

Joe Bauman Home Run Award Winners
Year Player HR Team(s)
2021 MJ Melendez 41 Omaha (AAA) and Northwest Arkansas (AA)
2019 Kevin Cron 39 Reno (AAA), AZL Diamondbacks (Rookie)
2018 Pete Alonso*** 36 Binghamton (AA), Las Vegas (AAA)
2017 A.J. Reed 34 Fresno (AAA)
2016 Dylan Cozens 40 Reading (AA)
2015 A.J. Reed 34 Lancaster (A), Corpus Christi (AA)
2014 Kris Bryant 43 Tennessee (AA), Iowa (AAA)
2013 Joey Gallo 40 Hickory (A), Arizona (Rookie)
2012 Darin Ruf 38 Reading (AA)
2011 Bryan LaHair 38 Iowa (AAA)
2010 Mike Moustakas** 36 Omaha (AAA), Northwest Arkansas (AA)
2009 Mitch Jones* 35 Albuquerque (AAA)
2008 Dallas McPherson 42 Albuquerque (AAA)
2007 Craig Brazell 39 Omaha (AAA), Wichita (AA)
2006 Kevin Witt 36 Durham (AAA)
2005 Brandon Wood 43 Rancho Cucamonga (A), Salt Lake (AAA)
2004 Ryan Howard 46 Reading (AA), Scranton (AAA)
2003 Graham Koonce 34 Sacramento (AAA)
2002 Ivan Cruz 35 Memphis (AAA)
***- Alonso and Ibandel Isabel tied with 36. Alonso was declared winner by virtue of having more RBI (119 to 78) **- Moustakas and Mark Trumbo tied with 36. Moustakas was declared winner by virtue of having more RBI (124 to 122) *- Jones and Jon Gaston tied with 35. Jones was declared winner by virtue of having more RBI (103 to 100)