Friday night at Redsfest on the main stage saw the organization hand out their awards to various players from both the Major League and Minor League side. There are four awards handed out to the Minor Leaguers, with the top award, the Sheldon Chief Bender Player of the Year Award being the top honor. There have been some heavy hitters take home the award in the past, but this season it truly was a heavy hitter. The award was given to first baseman Ibandel Isabel in 2018 for his performance with the Daytona Tortugas.

When the season began, Ibandel Isabel wasn’t even eligible for this award. He was playing for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. But two weeks into the season the Cincinnati Reds acquired him in a trade for Ariel Hernandez. The Reds chose to send Isabel to Daytona where he would play first base, a little bit of right field, and serve as the designated hitter for the Tortugas.

Through his first six weeks in Daytona he was solid, but unspectacular – he posted a .756 OPS in 26 games with five home runs. On May 26th, though, he went on a crazy run for the next 10 games. Isabel would hit 10 home runs in that stretch, including three different 2-home run games. It’s hard to top something like that, so it’s no surprise that he didn’t. But that run put him in position to chase history. And he came through the other side, breaking the Florida State League record for home runs that had stood since 1951 (and tied in 1971) by hitting 35 home runs. He had a home run with Rancho Cucamonga before the trade, which gave him 36 total on the season.

For the season in Daytona he posted a .258/.333/.566 line with 11 doubles and 35 home runs. That came in 104 games played for the Tortugas. He would score 62 runs and drive in 75. His .900 OPS led the Florida State League, as did his .566 slugging percentage, and record breaking 35 home runs. All of those stats were also tops in the Cincinnati Reds farm system among players in the full-season leagues.

8 Responses

  1. RedsinWashst

    Now here is a guy I’m rooting for. Show all these people wrong. Get the strikeouts down, add a few more walks and practice your defense. We need a big bopper in Cincinnati.

  2. Oldtimer

    Not many Reds MiLB player have hit 35 HR in a season over the years that I can remember.

    Hard to say where this guy goes next but 2018 was a superb year for him.

    • Cguy

      Adam Duvall hit 35 hr in 2015, albeit 5 of those were for the Reds after being promoted from Louisville. Of course Adam had 185 more AB in 2015 than Isabel did last season (561 for Duvall, 376 for Isabel). Even so, Duvall struck out only 25% of his AB (140/561) whereas Ibandel struck out 40% of his AB for Daytona(152/376). For a better comparison, in 2012 (when Duvall was in advanced A ball) he hit 30 HR in 534 AB, 100 RBI, 116 K with a .280/.340/.895 slash line. Last season at high A ball Isabel had 35 HR in 376 AB, 75 RBI, 152 K, with a .258/ .333/ .900 slash line. I don’t know if Adam won the MiLB player of the year award for the SF organization in 2012 or not-but I doubt it.

      • Oldtimer

        MiLB seasons usually run from April through August with September mostly dark (no games).

        Thinking way back when, Reds sluggers like Lee May and Deron Johnson got close to 35 HR in MiLB during early 1960s.

        Guys like Bench or Foster didn’t (in MiLB).

  3. Optimist

    He doesn’t quite seem in the Rob Deer/Dave Kingman category, but I wonder if his power value would be best exploited in the American League, and, if so, is his best use right now is as the clinching piece in a trade for SP? Hello Tribe?

  4. Simon Cowell

    Ok, so why isn’t he the hitter of the year award? Is this so we can give out more trophies? I simply don’t get it. This to me smells like a participation award. If he is the best player then clearly he was also the best hitter as well.

  5. Shawn

    Congrats Doug, can’t wait to see how everything turns out!

  6. Brad Legg

    It’s funny that Isabel is on no one’s top prospect list. Yet he gets player of the year honors.