Cards' Gómez claims Minor League HR crown

September 29th, 2022

From free agent to this season's Minor League Baseball home run king. It's been quite a year for Moisés Gómez.

With the Triple-A season coming to a close, the No. 30 Cardinals prospect launched 39 homers to claim the Joe Bauman Award, given annually to the top home run hitter in the Minors.

First presented in 2002, the award was 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.

Gómez is the second St. Louis farmhand to win the award and first since the year it debuted. Ivan Cruz led the way in 2002 with 35 roundtrippers.

Signed out of Venezuela by Tampa Bay in 2015, Gómez spent two years in Rookie-level competition before breaking out in 2018. Playing for what was then Single-A Bowling Green, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder posted an .831 OPS and hit 19 homers with 82 RBIs. His numbers took a significant dip when he moved up a level the next season.

Gómez spent all of 2021 with Double-A Montgomery but struggled, slashing .171/.256/.309 with eight long balls and 115 strikeouts in 76 games. The Rays released him in October and he signed with the Cardinals on Nov. 2.

The rest is history.

Gómez homered 11 times in April, including six in his first six games with Double-A Springfield. The slugger went on to club 23 roundtrippers in 60 Texas League contests before his promotion to Triple-A Memphis in late June. Gómez added 16 more jacks to his ledger and finished 2022 with a .294/.371/.624 slash line, 66 extra-base hits and 94 RBIs in 120 games.

Gómez finished two homers ahead of prospect Alexander Canario and three more than Hunter Goodman and Canarios current teammate and No. 21 Cubs prospect Matt Mervis.

Here's a look at the other top Minor League home run hitters of 2022:

Alexander Canario, Chicago Cubs (37 home runs)

The No. 9 Cubs prospect flexed his muscles across three different levels in 2022, but it was with Double-A Tennessee where he really took off. Canario homered seven times in 24 games with High-A South Bend and was promoted to Tennesse on May 9, only days after homering in four consecutive games. It took the 22-year-old until his ninth game to hit his first Double-A homer, but he ended up with 24 in 81 contests in the Southern League. Canario was bumped up to Triple-A Iowa in late August and went deep six times in September, including homers in consecutive games to close out the season. In addition to his 37 home runs, the Dominican Republic native produced an .899 OPS, 65 extra-base hits and 97 RBIs in 125 games.

Matt Mervis, Chicago Cubs (36 home runs)

Teammates throughout the year with Canario, Mervis might have hit one less home run but was by far the more productive player. The No. 21 Cubs prospect led the Minors with 119 RBIs and 78 extra-base hits, 36 of which left the yard. Overall, the 24-year-old slashed .309/.379/.593 with 29 of his home runs coming between Double-A and Triple-A after he opened the year in the Midwest League.

Hunter Goodman, Colorado Rockies (36 home runs)

Goodman went from hitting two home runs during his professional debut last season to finishing tied for third in the Minors with 36 in 2022. The No. 23 Rockies prospect kept pace with Gómez in the early part of the season, hitting 22 roundtrippers with Class-A Fresno and added a dozen more after his promotion to High-A Spokane. Goodman hit a pair during his 12-game cameo with Double-A Hartford and ended the season slashing .294/.354/.572 in 134 games. The 22-year-old drove in 106 runs and finished second to Mervis with 71 extra-base hits.