With the regular season officially over in the Cincinnati Reds farm system we are going to look back at the 2019 campaign and I’m going to name the organizational All-Stars. In some years in the past I did both a rookie-level team and a full-season level team. This year I’m just going to do one and recognize both groups as one. All of that said, let’s get to the All-Stars.
Catcher: Tyler Stephenson
At the plate it was the best season that Tyler Stephenson has ever had. The 22-year-old catcher hit .285/.372/.410 for Double-A Chattanooga. In his 89 games he had 19 doubles, a triple, and he hit 6 home runs. He would also add in 37 walks to go with just 60 strikeouts in 363 plate appearances. His .782 OPS was 99 points higher than the league average. Stephenson made 87 starts behind the plate on the year and threw out 27% of opposing baserunners for the Lookouts.
First Baseman: Jose Tello
There were a few options to choose from for first base, but in the end I chose to go with Jose Tello. He split time between the Arizona League and Greeneville Reds, playing 46 total games. Over his 193 plate appearances he hit .311/.363/.525, showing off a little bit of everything at the plate. The 21-year-old showed off plenty of power, hitting 6 doubles, 4 triples, and 8 home runs. He also scored 30 runs and drove in 33 on the season.
Second Baseman: Josh VanMeter
While the norm wouldn’t be to give a full-season player the nod while playing in just 49 games, the competition simply wasn’t close here. Josh VanMeter hit .348/.429/.669 with 14 doubles, a triple, and 14 home runs with Louisville this season while also stealing 8 bases. He also drew 24 walks with just 37 strikeouts for the Bats during his time in Triple-A this year.
Third Baseman: Jose Acosta
The 2019 season was a magic one for Jose Acosta. He began the year in the Dominican Summer League, where he spent all season with the exception of the final two weeks of the year. While there the 19-year-old hit .403/.503/.611 with 20 extra-base hits, 30 walks, and 32 strikeouts. He was promoted stateside and joined the AZL Reds for the final two weeks of the season where he hit .370/.396/.478 with 5 doubles. The infielder also stole 26 bases and was caught just once during the season. He fell one hit short of hitting .400 on the year and instead settled for a .395 mark on the year – the best since Gary Redus hit an insane .462 in 1978 for Billings.
Shortstop: Jose Garcia
There was only one choice for the shortstop position and it was Jose Garcia. Despite missing nearly all of April, the Cuban born infielder led the Florida State League in doubles. He hit .280/.343/.436 for the Daytona Tortugas on the year to go along with 37 doubles, a triple, and he had 8 home runs. In his 452 plate appearances he scored 58 runs, drove in 55, and he stole 15 bases in 17 attempts. His .779 OPS was 113 points better than the league average.
Corner Outfielder: Aristides Aquino
We’ve all seen just what he’s done at the Major League level, but that all began in Triple-A this season. In 78 games with the Louisville Bats this season Aristides Aquino hit .299/.356/.636. That came with 13 doubles, a triple, and he added on 28 home runs. He missed nearly an entire month earlier in the season while dealing with a shoulder injury, but still managed to score 56 runs and drive in 53. He would also add 5 steals for good measure.
Corner Outfielder: Brian O’Grady
On the other corner for the outfield on this Cincinnati Reds organizational All-Star team is another guy who hit 28 home runs for Louisville this year. Brian O’Grady had about as well-rounded of a year as you’re going to see. The 27-year-old hit .280/.359/.550 for the Bats this year. That came with 30 doubles, a triple, and the previously mentioned 28 home runs. He also went out and stole 20 bases in his time spent in the International League.
Center Fielder: Michael Siani
The 2019 season was a tale of two halves for Michael Siani. He struggled at the plate in April and May, but began to turn things around in June and would finish the year with a .253/.333/.339 line for the Dayton Dragons. The now 20-year-old had 10 doubles, 6 triples, and 6 home runs in his 121 games. On the bases he led the organization with 45 stolen bases. But what really gave the edge to Siani over a few other options was his game changing defense. It seemed the every 2-3 days he would have a highlight reel play in the outfield that changed the game.
Designated Hitter: Darlin Guzman
This could have gone a few different ways, but the nod is going to 18-year-old Darlin Guzman. He spent the entire season with the Dominican Summer League Reds. Over the 47 games played he hit .357/.394/.616 with 18 doubles, 6 triples, and 6 home runs. 30 extra-base hits in 47 games is getting it done. The outfielder scored 40 runs and drove in 41 while also stealing 5 bases. His 1.010 OPS was 315 points better than the league average.
Starting Pitcher: Packy Naughton
The Reds starting pitching on the farm didn’t have many bright spots in 2019, but that wasn’t due to anything that Packy Naughton did. The 23-year-old left hander began the year with Daytona, but after dominating for 9 starts he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga where he made 19 more starts. Between his two stops he posted a 3.32 ERA in 157.0 innings. He allowed just 10 home runs on the year, walked just 35 batters, and he struck out 131.
Starting Pitcher: Scott Moss
On one side of things, Scott Moss had a strong season with the Chattanooga Lookouts this year. On the other side, the Reds traded the left-handed starter at the end of July and he’s no longer in the organization. But that doesn’t mean his contributions shouldn’t be accounted for. He threw 102.0 innings with a 3.44 ERA for the Lookouts before the trade. He allowed just 84 hits and 7 homers while striking out 123 batters.
Starting Pitcher: Connor Curlis
The third starting pitcher to make the team is also the third left-handed pitcher to make the team. Connor Curlis didn’t begin the season when it started. He joined the Dayton Dragons on May 20th, but once he arrived he never looked back. He made 13 starts and 4 relief appearances with Dayton, and another 2 starts with Daytona during the season. The 22-year-old threw 83.1 innings between his two stops and posted a 2.92 ERA. He struck out 79 batters on the season with 35 walks.
Relief Pitcher: Alex Powers
It’s tough to find a pitcher that’s been more dominant in the minor leagues over the last two seasons than Alex Powers. And no, I don’t just mean within the Reds system. After posting a 2.34 ERA last year, Powers did even better this season. Splitting his time between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, the 27-year-old had an ERA of 1.64 between his two stops. In 49.1 innings he allowed just 34 hits, 3 home runs, walked 18 batters, and he racked up 66 strikeouts. He would add 6 saves with Chattanooga and pick up 2 more with Louisville.
Relief Pitcher: Joel Kuhnel
Like Alex Powers, Joel Kuhnel split his season between Chattanooga and Louisville this season before being promoted to Cincinnati in August. Over his 53.2 innings in the minor leagues this season he posted a 2.18 ERA while picking up 14 saves. He gave up 39 hits and 6 home runs, walked 16 batters and he struck out 50.
Coming later this week
This week is going to also feature the various player of the year award winners. Each day, starting tomorrow, will have something for the Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Hitter of the Year, and Reliever of the Year.