ROSEMONT, Ill. — Chicago Dogs first baseman Keon Barnum had already been honored as the best in his league — he was named the American Association’s Most Valuable Player in September. Now, he has been selected as the top talent in all of Independent League baseball. The 2019 Chicago Dogs slugger is Baseball America’s Independent Baseball Player of the Year, the outlet announced.
In Barnum’s first season with the Dogs, he paved his way through the history books, breaking the Association’s single-season home run record.
Barnum smashed 31 home runs and led the Association in longballs, slugging percentage (.635), OPS (1.030), extra-base hits (58) and total bases (237), while ranking second with 90 RBI. His season featured finesse, not just power, as he paced the Dogs with a .311 batting average and 116 hits.
Barnum is just the third American Association player to earn the national award — and the first since 2013, when Baseball America chose C.J. Ziegler of the Wichita Wingnuts. It was Ziegler who previously held the Association’s home run record, a mark that stood until September 1.
The Independent Leagues Player of the Year in 2011 was Chris Colabello (then of the Canadian American Association’s Worcester Tornadoes), who went on to play in 225 MLB games across four years for the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays. Colabello joined the Association’s Kansas City T-Bones for the 2019 season.
In 2012, the Chicago White Sox selected Barnum in the first round of the MLB Draft (48th overall). Barnum, a Tampa, Florida native, climbed his way up the White Sox farm system and reached the Double-A level, with the Birmingham Barons, in 2016. During his final year in Birmingham, 2018, the first baseman racked up 15 home runs and 44 RBI.
The 2019 season was Barnum’s first in the American Association, and he keyed the Dogs to a 59-41 record, the best finish in franchise history.
Barnum is spending the offseason playing for Los Mayos de Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. His seven home runs and 32 RBI lead the team.