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09/30/2004 2:56 PM ET
Howard named Eastern League MVP
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Slugging Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was named the Most Valuable Player of the double-A Eastern League, the league announced today.

Howard, 24, spent the first four months of the season with Reading (AA) and, in that time, set a club record with 37 home runs. For the second consecutive year, he won the organization's Paul Owens Award, given to the organization's top position prospect. Howard's home run total ranked second in the EL, despite missing the final month of the season after a July 31 promotion to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He also finished first in the league with 102 RBI and a .647 slugging percentage.

"Ryan has had an outstanding year and has shown the ability to adjust and succeed at every level," said Mike Arbuckle, Assistant General Manager, Scouting & Player Development. "We feel that he has a great future."

For Howard, this is his second consecutive MVP crown. Last season, he played for single-A Clearwater and was named the Florida State League MVP after falling just seven RBI short of the league's triple crown. He led the FSL with a .304 average, 20 home runs and a .514 slugging percentage.

After breaking Greg Luzinski's 34-year-old Reading Phillies home run record this year, Howard was promoted to Scranton and hit nine more home runs and drove in 29 runs in 29 games. He became just the fifth minor league player since 1956 to hit at least 46 home runs with at least 131 RBI and the first since 1982.

On September 1, Howard was recalled by the Phillies and has hit two pinch-home runs in limited play. With 48 total home runs this season, he is tied with the Dodgers' Adrian Beltre for the lead among all professional baseball players. Howard was a fifth-round selection by the Phillies in the 2001 draft.

2004 marks the fourth straight season that the Phillies' development system has produced players at the top of their position. Prior to Howard's two MVP crowns, Marlon Byrd won the EL MVP in 2001. In 2002, the organization boasted the top pitcher in the International (AAA), Eastern and Florida State Leagues when Joe Roa, Ryan Madson and Taylor Buchholz, respectively, won the honors.

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