Via Press Release from Durham's Matt DeMargel.
The International League today announced Bulls IF/OF Russ Canzler has been named the 2011 Most Valuable Player. Canzler is the fifth Durham Bull to win the award in the 14 years since the Bulls have been a member of the International League. He joins Dan Johnson (2010), Kevin Witt (2006), Toby Hall (2001) and Steve Cox (1999).
“It feels great. It’s definitely a little overwhelming. It’s one of those things you don’t imagine happening for yourself. I was fortunate enough to play with a good group of guys the entire year and stay healthy and it’s a real tribute to this organization to have the league MVP for two years in a row,” Canzler said.
The former 30th round draft pick had never played above the Double-A level before signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent this past offseason. Having seen significant time at third base, first base, left field, and right field, the versatile Canzler has made his biggest contributions for Durham at the plate. He is 4th in the International League with a .312 average to go along with 18 home runs and 79 RBI. His 61 extra-base hits, 77 runs scored, 241 total bases, and .533 slugging percentage are all tops in the IL.
In July, Canzler was elected as the starting third baseman for the IL at the Triple-A All-Star Game, where his three-run home run was the difference in the 3-0 contest. He is just the second IL player ever to win Top Star honors at the Triple-A All-Star Game and the League MVP award in the same season, following in the footsteps of another Durham Bull, Kevin Witt in 2006.
The last time the International League named a Most Valuable Player from the same team in consecutive years was in 1984 and 1985 when Scott Bradley and Dan Pasqua of Columbus were so honored.