MARIETTA, Ga. – He may be "The Mayor" of Huntsville, but he's the king of the Southern League. Huntsville Stars first baseman Hunter Morris has been named the Most Valuable Player of the Southern League for the 2012 season.
The 23-year-old has had a breakout year in his first full season at Double-A. In 136 games, Morris is batting .303, just 12 points shy of the Southern League lead. He has 28 home runs, 113 RBIs, 158 hits, 74 extra-base hits, 294 total bases and a slugging percentage of .563, all tops in the league. He's played in the second-most games this season, has the second most at bats (522) and doubles (40) and has scored the third-most runs (77). His 113 RBIs are the second most in all of Minor League Baseball this season and the most in the Southern League this century.
The Huntsville native has made his mark in the Stars' record books too. He's the first Stars player to reach 100 RBI since Mike Coolbaugh, D.T. Cromer and Ben Grieve in 1997. He's placed himself in the top 10 in a handful of season-best categories: home runs (3rd), RBIs (7th), total bases (2nd), doubles (tied – 1st), slugging percentage (3rd) and hits (tied – 10th).
Morris has earned a number of accolades and honors all season long recognizing his outstanding and solid season. He was named the Topps Southern League Player of the Month for June and July, the first player to win back-to-back honors since Montgomery's Delmon Young in 2005 (May and June). Morris was the first Stars position player to win the honor since Mat Gamel in 2008. He also earned the Brewers Minor League Player of the Month for April and July and the Southern League Player of the Week on July 9th. He was also named to the mid-season and post-season All-Star teams. Entering the 2012 season, Morris was the Brewers' 10th best prospect, according to MLB.com.
The lefthander is the first Southern League player to hit at least 25 home runs and have 100 RBI in the same season since Gabe Kapler of Jacksonville in 1998.
Defensively, Morris matches his offensive prowess. His numbers put him as the best defensive first baseman in the league with a .995 fielding percentage. He's committed just six errors in 1,259 total chances. Baseball America ranked him as the best defensive first baseman in the Southern League.
Morris was drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year that same year, batting .386 with 76 RBIs and a school record 23 home runs. He was also named Huntsville City Player of the Year four times while attending Grissom High School.
He is the first Stars player to receive MVP honors since Corey Hart in 2003 and the fifth in team history. The MVP award is voted on by league field managers, broadcasters and print media.