KANSAS CITY, MO. (October 4, 2021) – Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. has been named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, the publication announced today. He becomes the fourth Royals’ minor league player to receive the honor, joining right-handed pitcher Tom Gordon (1988), third baseman Alex Gordon (2006) and outfielder Wil Myers (2012). The Royals’ four Minor League Player of the Year winners are tied with Atlanta for the most by any club in the 40-year history of the award.
“On behalf of our entire organization, I want to congratulate Bobby on such a terrific first full season as a professional,” said J.J. Picollo, Royals Sr. Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager. “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.”
Witt Jr., 21, split the season between Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA), and in 123 overall games, he led all minor league players with 72 extra-base hits, while he ranked second in runs scored (99) and total bases (286), fourth in homers (33) and RBI (97) and fifth in hits (144). He recorded 35 doubles, 33 home runs and 29 stolen bases, falling just short of becoming the third minor league player since 1990 to record a 30-30-30 season. However, he’s the first Royals minor leaguer to record 20+ homers and 20+ steals in a season since Alex Gordon in 2006.
In June, Witt Jr. was selected to the MLB All-Star Futures Game roster, and on July 11, he was the starting shortstop and batted leadoff for the American League at Coors Field. Just one week later, on July 18, he was promoted to Omaha, and at the time of his promotion, led all Double-A players in total bases (139), while also leading the Central in RBI (51) and tying for the division lead in runs (44). He was second in the division in hits (72) and home runs (16). He was named the Triple-A East Player of the Week for Aug. 2-8, as he went 8-for-27 (.296) with two doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI and eight runs scored in a six-game span. He finished the month in similar fashion, claiming Triple-A East Player of the Month for August. From the time of his promotion to Omaha on July 18 to the end of the season, Witt Jr. led Triple-A players in runs scored (55), doubles (24) and extra-base hits (41), while tying for fourth in homers (17) and sixth in slugging percentage (.581).
Witt Jr. was selected by the Royals in the first round (2nd overall) of the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas.