KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals farmhand Bobby Witt Jr. has been chosen as the 2021 Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.
Splitting his first full professional season between Class AA Northwest Arkansas and Class AAA Omaha, the 21-year-old Witt appeared in 123 games with the Royals’ top two minor-league affiliates and led all minor-league players with 72 extra-base hits.
He also posted the second-most runs scored (99) and total bases (286), fourth-most home runs (33) and RBIs (97) and fifth-most hits (144).
Witt, who also had 35 doubles and 29 stolen bases, briefly became only the third minor-league player since 1990 to have 30 home runs, doubles and steals in a season.
But the game in which he stole his 30th base was later canceled by rain and the stats from the game were wiped from the record book. However, he’s still the first Royals minor leaguer with 20 home runs and 20 steals in a season since Alex Gordon in 2006.
Witt, who was chosen as the Triple-A East Player of the Week for Aug. 2-8 and the Triple-A East Player of the Month for August, joined the Royals’ organization as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He was a star at Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas.
His father, Bobby Witt Sr., played 16 big-league seasons for Texas, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Arizona and also pitched for the former Florida Marlins.
Witt is the fourth player in Royals history to receive the honor. He joins pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon (1988), Alex Gordon (2006) and outfielder Wil Myers (2012).
“On behalf of our entire organization, I want to congratulate Bobby on such a terrific first full season as a professional,” Royals Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager J.J. Picollo said in a statement. “He came into 2021 carrying high expectations and he didn’t disappoint in any phase of his game. From his hitting, including hitting with power, to his baserunning and his defensive skill set, Bobby had just a tremendous year and is very deserving of this honor. We are very proud of his accomplishments this year and look forward to many years of outstanding play by him.”
Kansas City now matches Atlanta with the most such honors in the 40-year history of the award.