Yesterday we crowned Brian O’Grady as our Cincinnati Reds Minor League Player of the Year for the 2019 season. Today we are handing out the award for the Cincinnati Reds Hitter of the Year for the 2019 season and it’s going to Jose Acosta.

Is it rare to hand the hitter of the year award to a player from rookie ball? Yes it is. But what Jose Acosta did in 2019 was awfully rare, too. The 19-year-old switch hitter began his season with the Dominican Summer League Reds. From the start of June through August 13th that’s where he stayed, playing in 43 games. On the 13th, in what would be his final day playing for the DSL Reds in the regular season he went 3-3 with 2 walks. That raised his average to .403. It raised his on-base percentage to .503. And is raised his slugging percentage to .611.

Two days later he was in the starting lineup for the Arizona League Reds. He barely skipped a beat. He played in 10 games the rest of the season before the AZL season ended. Jose Acosta had 2 hits in 7 of those 10 games. Ultimately he would hit .370/.396/.478 in those 10 games. That gave him a line of .395/.481/.579 on the season between his two stops. He fell just one hit shy of hitting .400 for the entire season.

If that weren’t impressive enough, the third baseman also stole 26 bases and was caught just once during the year. Let’s note that he played all of 53 games between his two stops in rookie-ball this year. He also walked 31 times and struck out just 42 times.

But if you want to see something just crazy, sit down and get ready. As a right-handed hitter this season he went 26-49 with 6 walks and just 3 strikeouts. For those who didn’t have a calculator handy, that’s a .531 average. He also slugged .776 thanks to 5 doubles, 2 triples, and a home run. It’s not often that the weak side for a switch hitter posts a .349/.451/.514 line from that side, but when you hit .531 from the other side…. well, that will do it.

As was written about at the end of the season, Jose Acosta’s .395 average for the year is the best in the organization at any level since 1978 when Gary Redus hit .462 for the Billings Mustangs. No one else has hit higher than .382 dating back to at least 1970 in the Reds farm system.

What separated Jose Acosta from the others?

With Brian O’Grady being named the Player of the Year he was ineligible for this award. That left Aristides Aquino and Jose Acosta as the two players being considered for the spot. There’s something to be said about doing it in the upper minor leagues versus doing it at the complex levels. The competition is absolutely tougher at those levels further up the chain.

With that said, Jose Acosta’s OPS in the Dominican Summer League was 418 points better than the league average. For as good as Aristides Aquino was this year for Louisville, his OPS was only 205 points better than the league average in the International League. That’s not even HALF of the 418 points better than the league average that Acosta was. When we also add in the 26 steals it just makes things even more clear in his favor. And yes, I know this is the HITTER of the year award – but it’s just easier to call it that than the “offensive player of the year” award. Steals count.

In most seasons in recent memory, Aristides Aquino would have gotten the nod here. But this year simply isn’t it. Jose Acosta put together the best offensive season from a player at the complex levels since I’ve been covering the farm system, which dates back to 2006.

13 Responses

  1. Mike in Ottawa

    Impressive numbers for sure. Any chance he starts next season in Dayton? Or is he bound for Greenville or Billings? Also does he project better HR numbers as he matures physically?

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      I’d imagine he’ll be in either the AZL or Greeneville next year to begin the season.

      Reply
  2. PUSHERMAN

    Where will he be in your organizational prospect list? Top 10?
    On one hand, you hate to see somebody so far off win this, but at the same time it builds excitement. Plus there are guys just a year older than him mashing in the majors.
    What do you have his ceiling at and can you give some comps?
    I haven’t seen any video or even a pic of him. How much room does he have to fill out?
    The #s are Juan Soto ish.

    Reply
    • Billy

      When Soto was 19, he started the season in A ball, and finished it hitting 22 homers in the majors. Acosta didn’t do that.

      Reply
    • Doug Gray

      I haven’t really dived into the prospect research yet. I’ve only talked with two people who have seen him play in person at this point. I will say this, there’s no chance he’s in the top 15.

      Reply
      • PUSHERMAN

        Well then, this, O Grady being the POTY, and the organizational all stars is about as uninspiring and exciting as a system can be. Especially one who has lost as many games as the Reds have the last 6 years. Not to mention with what they have at the big league level. Zero impact guys on the way. This franchise will lose a lot of fan interaction the next few years.

      • Oldtimer

        Several impact players “on the way” to Reds. Greene (if healthy) can be ace SP. India can be INF starter. Lodolo (a couple years away) is another possible ace SP. Tyler Stephenson can be C starter.

      • PUSHERMAN

        Greene will be an afterthought after next year, if he’s not already. Not only is he damaged goods but his fastball is all time flat with no big league caliber second offering.
        India, what about him screams impact? Not one thing.
        Lodolo, eh, the HOPE is that he is a solid #3.
        The truth is this is a team that likely traded 3 top 5 prospects and another top 10 one for rentals, zero future help, in a year they will finish 12 games under 500. It’s inexcusable.

  3. DaveCT

    I think this is very fair. Whether Acosta continues to play at even a above average level, of course, remains to be seen. But what he did was indeed special.

    That said, I often find myself opposing guys making lists, especially for ones just for a certain league, when they’ve spent just part of the season there. I think there’s something to be said for seeing what someone can do once the league makes adjustments. For instance, someone making one list when he was promoted after two months, then making another list at the next level. Just don’t know about that.

    Aquino’s probably not the best example, but I tend to look at what he’s done in the ML’s and that giving him plenty of recognition.

    Reply
    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      I was going to make a comment about this not being called the Offensive Player of the Year as soon as steals were mentioned, but then you beat me to it, Doug.

      Reply
  4. Jim

    Gary Redus is a player who also brought the minors at my attention.
    Some of remember Redus well. Doug would have joined bandwagon too. Was no internet and as a Reds fan we listened to Marty and Joe keeping us updated on the minors. Well the way I remember it was we had a player in Redus who going to better than Babe and Mantle combined. Opening day 82 or 83 he started his rookie season with a homer. That was a day any Reds fan would have signed him to a lifetime Billion dollar contract. In retrospect we should have traded by 6pm opening day lol. That is the highlight of his Reds days. Glad to see he still holds the record at .462.
    See Acosta is 19 but just came stateside. Red Flag he didn’t come at age 18 tho.

    Reply

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