The Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs has announced Hunter Morris of the Huntsville Stars as its 2012 Most Valuable Player.
Votes for this award were received from league field managers, radio broadcasters and print media.
It has been a monstrous season for Morris, who enters the final day of the regular season atop the league with 28 home runs and 113 RBI. Morris’ RBI total is the second highest in all of Minor League Baseball in 2012 and the most in the Southern League this century.
The first member of the Stars to claim MVP honors since Corey Hart in 2003, Morris flirted with the first Southern League Triple Crown in 40 years.
His .303 batting average ranks fourth in the league behind Montgomery’s Omar Luna (.315), Mississippi’s Todd Cunningham (.312) and Pensacola’s Josh Fellhauer (.311). In addition to the top spot in two-thirds of the Triple Crown categories, the lefthanded-hitting Morris leads the Southern League in total bases (294), extra-base hits (74), hits (158) and slugging percentage (.563). He also is second in the league with 40 doubles, which are tied for the Stars franchise record previously achieved by D.T. Cromer in 1997 and Hart in 2003.
Concluding May with just three homers in 50 games, Morris went on a two-month power binge that featured the secondmost home runs (17) in MiLB from the beginning of June through the end of July. He also owned the third-highest RBI total (52) in the minors during that span en route to the Southern League’s first back-to-back Topps Player of the Month honors since Montgomery’s Delmon Young in May and June of 2005.
The first native of Huntsville to play for the Stars, Morris thrived in front of the home crowd to the tune of a .327 batting average, 17 homers and 67 RBI at Joe Davis Stadium. In his final home game of the season on August 28, Morris launched his 25th home run to become the first Southern League player with at least 25 homers and 100 RBI in the same season since Jacksonville’s Gabe Kapler in 1998.
In addition to Morris’ offensive achievements this season, the 23-year-old leads all qualifying Southern League first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage. He has committed just six errors in 136 games.
Prior to being selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Morris established a school record with 23 home runs in his junior season at Auburn. He also batted .386 with 76 RBI that year en route to Southeastern Conference Player of the Year honors. A four-time Huntsville City Player of the Year, Morris batted .470 with 46 home runs and 198 RBI at Grissom High School.
The Boston Red Sox, with whom he did not sign, originally selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft.