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.
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:
|2011||Ronald Torreyes||.356||Dayton||306 PA|
|2008||Neftali Soto||.340||Billings/Dayton||304 PA|
|2005||Adam Rosales||.325||Billings/Dayton||307 PA|
|2003||Brandon Larson||.323||Louisville||315 PA|
|2002||Brandon Larson||.340||Louisville||327 PA|
|1991||Reggie Sanders||.315||Chattanooga||349 PA|
|1987||Bernie Walker||.326||Bil/Ced/Nash||360 PA|
|1986||Jeff Treadway||.331||Vermont/Denver||375 PA|
|1970||Lawrence Basey||.335||GCL Reds|