Reading duo Fightin’ it out for annual home run crown
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With two weeks of play remaining in the 2016 Minor League Baseball season, two Reading Fightin’ Phils sluggers are battling for the annual Joe Bauman Home Run Award, presented by Musco Sports Lighting. The top regular season home run hitter in the domestic-based leagues wins the Joe Bauman Award, which is presented at the Baseball Winter Meetings, as well as a check representing $200 for each home run he hits.
Reading outfielder Dylan Cozens leads Minor League Baseball with 37 home runs, while teammate Rhys Hoskins is second with 35 homers. Cozens is tied with Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo for the most home runs in all of professional baseball.
Cozens hit 38 home runs over his first four professional seasons, before exploding for 37 long balls so far in 2016. Cozens has four multi-homer games in 2016 and homered in three consecutive games twice (May 10-12 and Aug. 14-17). He had a two-game stretch against Bowie from Aug. 3-4 in which he went 7-for-9 with five homers, two triples, seven runs scored and 12 RBI. Cozens was selected in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Cozens, 22, is attempting to be the fourth consecutive player under the age of 23 to win the award, following A.J. Reed (22) in 2015, Kris Bryant (22) in 2014, and Joey Gallo (19) in 2013.
Hoskins, 23, has homered in consecutive games eight times in 2016, including three-game homer stretches from June 22-24 and August 20-22. He homered 26 times in his first two professional seasons before his breakout 2016 campaign. Hoskins was selected by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Sacramento State University.
Rochester’s Daniel Palka (32 home runs) is the only other minor leaguer with 30 or more home runs in 2016. Palka launched 21 homers for Chattanooga in the Southern League before adding 11 more for the Red Wings. Palka, 24, posted consecutive multi-homer games on June 1-2 before being promoted on July 7. Palka was originally selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Georgia Tech. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins on Nov. 10, 2015, in exchange for Chris Hermann.
Hoskins and Palka each homered 13 times in June, the most in one month in professional baseball since Tacoma’s Jabari Blash hit 14 in August of 2015.
Classification leaders, provided they are not the overall winner, receive a $500 cash award. El Paso’s Hunter Renfroe and Reno’s Kyle Jensen lead the Triple-A level with 28 home runs. Three sluggers are battling for the Single-A home run crown as Carolina’s Travis Demeritte and Rancho Cucamonga’s Johan Mieses lead with 27, one ahead of Lynchburg’s Bobby Bradley.
Missoula’s Eudy Ramos and Ogden’s Cody Thomas (13 homers) are tied for the Short Season-A and Rookie-level lead, while Pulaski’s Dermis Garcia and Helena’s Ronnie Gideon are just one home run behind.
Minor League Baseball will announce the 2016 Joe Bauman Home Run Award winner Sept. 6. The recipient will receive his trophy and monetary award Monday, Dec. 5, at the Baseball Winter Meetings Awards Luncheon in National Harbor, Maryland.
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