When the 2019 season began very few people knew who Jose Acosta was. Even someone like myself, who studies the farm system year round didn’t exactly have him on the radar. Last season he hit .199/.321/.284 as an 18-year-old in the DSL. He showed a solid approach for the league with 24 walks and 29 strikeouts in 39 games, but nothing really jumped out at you.

Fast-forward a year and that’s changed quite a bit. The Reds kept Jose Acosta back in the Dominican Summer League to begin 2019. That’s not surprising given his age and performance the previous season. But he did all that he could in order to get promoted. And he really did, too. In 43 games he hit .400/.500/.607 for the Reds with 30 walks, 32 strikeouts, and he went 24-for-24 in stolen base attempts.

Cincinnati decided to bring the 19-year-old infielder stateside to finish up the 2019 season. On August 15th he was promoted to the Arizona League Reds and he’s now played in nine games. He’s slowed down a little bit, but only because of how well he hit in the Dominican. He’s gone out and hit .381/.409/.500 across 42 at-bats in Goodyear. That leaves his average on the season at .396. The AZL Reds play the final game of their season later today. And if Jose Acosta is in the lineup, he’s got a chance to finish the year with a .400 or better average.

The math is pretty easy here. For Jose Acosta to finish the year with at least a .400 average he will need at least 2 at-bats. Here’s the break down for where he would finish if he has X number of hits later today.

Hits At-Bats Average
0 0 .396
1 1 .399
2 2 .402
2 3 .400
3 3 .405
3 4 .403
4 4 .408
3 5 .401
4 5 .406
5 5 .411
4 6 .404
5 6 .409
6 6 .414

400 is a magic number in baseball. The last time a Major Leaguer hit .400 and qualified for the batting title was in 1941 when Ted Williams hit .406 (and was robbed of being the league MVP). It’s been done in the minor leagues since then.

In Cincinnati Reds minor league lore, well before this site (or any other for that matter) existed, Gary Redus hit .462 for the Billings Mustangs in 1978. What a season that was, as he had twice as many walks as he had strikeouts while hitting an insane .462/.559/.787 in 68 games. Oh, and he also stole 42 bases. Redus went on to play in 1159 Major League games across parts of 13 seasons before retiring following the 1994 season.

After going through the archives at Baseball Reference all of the way back to 1970 for the Reds farm system, Redus is the only player to have hit .400 in the organization that either played a full rookie-league season, or had at least 300 plate appearances in a year if they played in a full-season league. The next closest player was Benny Colvard in 1988. He hit .382 that season between Billings and Greensboro. Randy Ruiz is the only other player to top .380 going back to 1970 – he hit .381 in 2000 with the Billings Mustangs.

For Jose Acosta he’s going to very likely have the highest average in the Reds farm system dating back to Gary Redus. He would need to go 0-8 to finish lower than Benny Colvard’s .382 mark from 1988. There’s no chance that he would catch Gary Redus – he would have to go 25 for 25 in the game to hit .463. That would make for an entirely different kind of story if it were to happen. It also puts into perspective just how incredible that season was for Redus.

For those of you history buffs, here’s every organizational leader in average dating back to 1970 for the Cincinnati Reds farm system:

Year Leader AVG Team Notes
2018 Mariel Bautista .330 Billings
2017 Andy Sugilio .345 Billings
2016 Mariel Bautista .333 DSL
2015 James Vasquez .359 AZL
2014 Kyle Waldrop .338 Bak/Pen
2013 Miguel Mendez .333 DSL
2012 Jesse Winker .338 Billings
2011 Ronald Torreyes .356 Dayton 306 PA
2010 Ronald Torreyes .370 VSL/AZL/Day
2009 Chris Heisey .314 Car/Lou
2008 Neftali Soto .340 Billings/Dayton 304 PA
2007 David Hernandez .344 VSL
2006 Danny Dorn .354 Billings
2005 Adam Rosales .325 Billings/Dayton 307 PA
2004 Phil Gentry .335 Billings
2003 Brandon Larson .323 Louisville 315 PA
2002 Brandon Larson .340 Louisville 327 PA
2001 Noochie Varner .351 Billings
2000 Randy Ruiz .381 Billings
1999 Casey Bookout .363 Billings
1998 Jason LaRue .350 Cha/Ind
1997 Mike Frank .376 Billings
1996 Wylie Campbell .371 Billings
1995 Tom Scott .353 Billings
1994 Ray Brown .367 Billings
1993 Chris Sexton .333 Billings
1992 Scott Pose .342 Chattanooga
1991 Reggie Sanders .315 Chattanooga 349 PA
1990 Adam Caillas .335 Cha/Nash
1989 Scott Pose .352 Billings
1988 Benny Colvard .382 Bil/Greensboro
1987 Bernie Walker .326 Bil/Ced/Nash 360 PA
1986 Jeff Treadway .331 Vermont/Denver 375 PA
1985 Mike Ramsey .342 Billings
1984 Brooks Shumake .348 Billings
1983 Ron Henika .350 Billings
1982 Kal Daniels .367 Billings
1981 Eric Davis .322 Eugene
1980 Cressy Pratt .368 Eugene
1979 Rod Johnson .327 Billings
1978 Gary Redus .462 Billings
1977 Harry Spillman .373 Trios-Rivieres
1976 Steve Henderson .312 Trios-Rivieres
1975 Tom Watkins .331 Eugene
1974 Don Lyle .333 Billings
1973 William Stock .331 Seattle
1972 Gene Locklear .325 Indianapolis
1971 Ken Griffey .348 Tam/Trios-R
1970 Lawrence Basey .335 GCL Reds


12 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    Will be interesting to follow his career trajectory.

    Hope he gets the .400 today!

    • Todd Powers

      2 walks in 2 plate appearances. .395 for the year. Bummer.

  2. RedsKoolAidDrinker

    Loved seeing the organizational leaders for each year.

    What’s interesting is how few of them turned out to do much later on.

  3. Scott C

    Wow. That is impressive what Redus did in if it was in Billings. It is easy to forget about Redus as a Reds, but he was one of my favorites to watch in the 80’s. Unfortunately he only played for the Reds for like four seasons and then they traded him I think to the Phillies but I forget who they received in return.

    • Oldtimer

      December 11, 1985: Gary Reds traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Tom Hume to the Philadelphia Phillies for John Denny and Jeff Gray.

      • MK

        Interesting fact, John Denny still getting $100 a month of deferred income from the Indians. Hasn’t been an Indian since 1982.

  4. AirborneJayJay

    Amazing how many players did it in Billings. But only Soto and Torreyes did it in Dayton. What makes Dayton so different from Billings besides altitude and it being one level higher?

    • Doug Gray

      The Pioneer League is one of the most hitter friendly leagues in professional baseball. Small ballparks are commonplace. There’s also the whole thing where the further down the chain you go, the larger the gap in talent at a level can be. Sometimes guys are playing in rookie ball that shouldn’t be – but because it’s a guy that was just drafted, they go to rookie ball even though they probably could hold their own a level or two higher. You don’t often see guys hanging around Double-A who could be in the Majors and performing.

      With Dayton, I think there’s a lot going on there. First, the league is slightly pitcher friendly, though not too much. But I think with Dayton in particular, you also get the “holy crap there are 7,000-8,000 people here” thing going on, especially early in the season. A lot of guys have never played in such an environment. Some of the college guys have, but a lot of guys haven’t been there, and it does take some getting used to for some of them.