The Arizona Fall League begins tonight out in the greater Phoenix area. We’ve know for a little more than a week now now which prospects would be heading out to join the league for the next seven weeks, and I even wrote about each of the eight Cincinnati Reds prospects when the list came out. With the league kicking off tonight, I’m checking back in to share some additional information.

One reason that teams may choose to send some players to the Arizona Fall League is that they will be Rule 5 draft eligible in December if the team does not add them to the 40-man roster. While the Reds may not have made their decision based on that, two of the players they are sending to Arizona will be Rule 5 eligible this year if left off of the 40-man roster.

Jayvien Sandridge may be an answer to a trivia question that you thought was a trick question. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2018 out of high school. The lefty then signed with the Orioles and pitched in two seasons for them in the Gulf Coast League. He was then released in 2020. Here’s the twist: Sandridge then went and played college baseball for Lynn University in 2021. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, you aren’t alone. But there’s a little known, and little used rule where a player maintains some eligibility to play division two or NAIA after signing a professional contract. The player loses one year of eligibility for each year they play professionally.

Sandridge signed with Cincinnati on June 9th of 2021 spent the remainder of the season with the ACL Reds. In 2022 he split his season between Daytona and Dayton, then this past season he spent most of it in Dayton and then got a late season, 4-game call up to Chattanooga. As noted in the earlier write up, he struggled to find consistency with the strikezone as he walked 51 batters in 63.0 innings. But when he threw strikes, guys didn’t do much with it as he allowed 44 hits and had 91 strikeouts.

With the control concerns you could see where he’s a bit of a coin-flip decision on whether to add him to the roster in November to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. But if he takes the mound out in Arizona and performs well, and throws a few more strikes, it could make the decision easier to add him as teams would likely be more inclined to consider drafting him if he were available.

The other prospect that will be in Arizona for the Reds who will be Rule 5 eligible if left off of the 40-man roster is Jacob Hurtubise. The outfielder had a breakout season in 2023 and was one of the best performers in the entire organization.

Hurtubise hit .330/.479/.483 in 119 games this past season. In 83 games in Double-A with the Chattanooga Lookouts he put up a .945 OPS and stole 33 bases. He also spent 36 games in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats and hit .390/.537/.460 – good for a .997 OPS – and he stole another 12 bases. Hurtubise also walked 77 times and had just 63 strikeouts.

There were a few things that really boosted his production, but the biggest one is that he went from a guy with 20-grade power to a guy who pitchers had to respect a little bit more because he started showing enough pop to keep them honest. In the first 165 games as a pro he hit 14 doubles, 5 triples, and 1 home run. This past season he had 11 doubles, 10 triples, and 7 homers.

Hurtubise certainly had a heck of a season. But he will also be 26-years-old when spring training begins in 2024 and he’s only got a little over a month of time above Double-A. It was a heck of a “little over a month” given that he hit .390 and walked more than twice as often as he struck out in that time, but when it comes to teams selecting players in the Rule 5 draft, that is something that could be working against him.

There is limited data available to the public when it comes to Hurtubise and Statcast because that is only available for Triple-A and the Florida State League. That leaves a sample size of batted ball data at 90 batted balls during his time with Louisville. He had five bunts in that time. Removing those from the data leaves the average exit velocity on the other 85 batted balls at 82 MPH. There were 401 big leaguers who had at least 100 batted balls in 2023. All of them had a higher average exit velocity than the 82.0 MPH Hurtubise had. Esteury Ruiz was last in the big leagues at 82.8 MPH.

A low average exit velocity isn’t necessarily a “can’t hit enough in the big leagues” kind of thing. It certainly doesn’t bode well, but you only have to get past the bottom five players in 2023 before you get to Jake Fraley, who had an 84.5 MPH average exit velocity this past season, and also was an above-average hitter (109 OPS+).

What can be more important than the overall exit velocity is how hard you hit the ball in that top 15-20% of your plate appearances range. Hurtubise topped 90 MPH 27 times out of his 85 non-bunts. But he also only topped 100 MPH once – with a 102 MPH single. His lone home run in Triple-A had an exit velocity of 93.3 MPH. Of the 273 homers that I have exit velocity data on for the farm system in 2023, that was 271st. You don’t see many baseballs hit over the fence with an exit velocity that low.

With teams paying more and more attention to this kind of data, this is another thing that could make the decision a little more of a debate than would initially meet the eye when just looking at a guy who hit .330 in the upper minor leagues. That, alone though, doesn’t tell you all the things Hurtubise can do offensively. He is very fast, steals bases, provides additional value as a baserunner even when not stealing, and he can play center. What he does out in Arizona likely isn’t going to change much from either the Reds perspective, or opposing teams perspectives on him.

Other AFL Notes

Last year we started to get more than just a few games across all of the Arizona Fall League streamed online so that we could watch. This year we’re getting that again, with a bunch of games throughout the next five weeks. The Reds prospects will be playing with the Surprise Saguaros this year and eight of their games will be streamed according to the list of games. Here’s the current schedule for Surprise games that will be streaming:

Date Game Time Home Team Away Team
5-Oct 9:30pm ET Salt River Surprise
6-Oct 9:30pm ET Scottsdale Surprise
12-Oct 9:30pm ET Salt River Surprise
16-Oct 9:30pm ET Mesa Surprise
20-Oct 5:30pm ET Salt River Surprise
26-Oct 5:30pm ET Peoria Surprise
2-Nov 9:30pm ET Surprise Mesa
8-Nov 4:30pm ET Mesa Surprise

The schedule could see games added, but that’s where things are at for now. They will be streamed for free through and should be accessible through the schedule link above.

Goodyear Ballpark, the home of the Reds out in Arizona, will host a tripleheader on October 14th. That game, along with just two other games for Surprise (unless something has changed from past years), will feature pitch/hit tracking data. The other two games will be on October 5th and October 20th when the club is in Salt River.

18 Responses

  1. RedBB

    Doug, do you have any idea of how Hurtubise’s D is? Arm strength? Gotta think he is at least an upgrade over Senzel and Fraley in that department.

    • mac624

      I’ve read his defense is pro-worthy as he has very good ball tracking skills. Never read anything about his arm strength. Doing a quick google search, his college coach who claimed to have played pro ball for 10 years (Jim Foster) said he reminds him of Tori Hunter in CF in his ability to track balls and rob hits.

  2. Stock

    I think Hurtubise is a close call for the 40 man roster and there is not enough room for Sandridge. Personally, I would include Hurtubise.

    What the statcast data does not show is that Hurtubise was a different player in AA than he was in AAA. In AA he had a 15% K%, 15% BB% and a .186 ISO. In AAA he had a 10% K%, 20% BB% and a .070 ISO. His AA ISO had him 59 out of 134 ML hitters with at least 501 PA. His AAA ISO had him 132 out of 134.

    28 Locks for the 40 man roster:

    C (2): Stephenson, 2nd Catcher
    IF (6): ELDC, CES, India, McLain, Marte and Steer
    OF (4): Fraley, Friedl, Benson, Fairchild,

    SP (8): Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Abbott, Williamson, Phillips, Spiers and Richardson
    RP (8): Diaz, Antone, Fernando Cruz, Gibaut, Law, Moll, Young and Sims

    Fairly Certain (5/6): Senzel, Barrero, Duarte, Legumina, Rece Hinds and Votto if he wants to play one more year.

    The next tier (6): Sanmartin, TJ Hopkins, Christian Roa, Jacob Hurtubise, Jacob Heatherly, Jose Acuna

    This makes 40. Often times the Reds start with 38 or 39 on their 40 man roster to prepare for FA acquisitions. If so several of these may not make it. I could very easily see keeping the next tier over some of these players also.

    The next tier: Gutierrez, Stoudt, Bryce Bonnin

    Very long shots: Lively, Overton, Alejo Lopez, McGarry, Confidan and Sandridge.

    • RedBB

      I would say Senzel is gone considering he is Arb3 and will cost north of $3M. I could be wrong though as he did lefties well. Is that worth $3M though? Also is it repeatable? I don’t think so

    • MBS

      1 Abbott 2 Acuna 3 Antone 4 Ashcraft
      5 Cruz 6 Diaz 7 Duarte 8 Dunn 9 Greene
      10 Gutierrez 11 Lodolo 12 Moll 13 Phillips
      14 Richardson 15 Spires 16 Stoudt
      17 Williamson 18 Young

      1 Benson 2 T. Callihan 3 CES 4 Dunn
      5 EDLC 6 Fraley 7 Friedl 8 Hinds
      9 Hurtubise 10 India 11 Marte 12 McGarry
      13 McLain 14 Steer 15 Stephenson 16 Urbaez

      I wouldn’t call these my locks, there are a few that are borderline, but these would be my preferred group. This would leave 6 Open spots, 3 should be FA pitchers. 1 SP, and 2 high leverage BP arms. 3 position player spots to round out a 40, and 1 of which would have to be a backup catcher.

      • MBS

        1 more point on my preferred group, Dunn could be omitted since he doesn’t have to be on the 40, I just think he has an excellent chance of being on the Reds in the 1st month of baseball. so leaving him off until he makes the Reds gives you 1 more spot to play with.

    • MBS

      @Stock 1 thing about your locks on the Bullpen side. If I’m reading it right Diaz, and Antone, and Cruz are the only 3 with options. Obviously Diaz isn’t going to be optioned up and down, so that really only leaves you with 2 guys who you can option. I’m trading Sims, Law, and Gibaut, and trying to sign Chapman, and Kimbrel. Now we got a 3 headed monster at the back of the pen, and a bit more flexibility in the pen.

      Core pieces
      1 Diaz 2 Chapman 3 Kimbrel 4 Young 5 Moll

      Shuttle pieces
      1 Duarte 2 Cruz 3 Antone 4 Spiers 5 Gutierrez 6 Dunn

      btw I wouldn’t be upset if we got Hader instead of Chapman, but we could probably sign both Chapman, and Kimbrel for about the same money as Hader alone.

    • BK

      I don’t expect the Reds to keep Dunn or Gutierrez on the 40-man roster this offseason. Neither was able to pitch for the Reds this year, and both had season-ending surgeries. If the Reds believe their injuries are recoverable, I expect them to offer minor-league contracts. Sanmartin and Overton’s injuries will likely cost them roster spots, as both were marginal before their UCL injuries.

      • MBS

        I’d guess Antone is at bigger risk of being DFA’d than Gutierrez. Like Dunn the ARB status combined with health is a reasonable argument to part ways. Gutierrez seems like a 40 man lock to me.

        I will say if they do keep all 3, they better perform, because there are a few guys like Petty, Lower, and Aguiar that might be claiming 40 man spots before the 24 season ends.

        Regardless of who they keep, hopefully they sign the help the pen needs to succeed in 24. It should be a fun year year to be a Reds fan.

      • BK

        Neither Dunn nor Antone will get big raises via arbitration. For each pitcher, it will simply come down to whether or not the Reds believe they can help. None will be too expensive, but 40-man roster spots will be at a premium this winter.

    • BK

      I agree that Hurtubise will be a closer call than his numbers may otherwise indicate. International League hitting numbers were inflated this year. A solid AFL showing could go a long way to proving his profile can compete in a more robust talent pool.

  3. Stock

    Six ML players who qualified for the batting title had an ISO of .102 or less last year.

    CWS: Tim Anderson, Andrew Benintendi
    CHC: Nico Hoerner
    CLE: Myles Straw, Steven Kwan
    KC: Maikel Garcia

    Of these six only two had an OBP of at least .340 (for reference sake Hurtubise had an OBP of .537 in AAA). Hoerner had an OBP of .346 and a WAR of 4.7. Kwan had an OBP of .340 and a WAR of 2.8.

    My gut has me thinking this is more of a tryout to see if trading Fraley makes sense as opposed to him making the 40 man roster.

    Trading Fraley may make sense when you have Hurtubise and Dunn waiting in the wings with a backup plan of Fairchild, and possibly Hopkins or Ramos.

    • RedBB

      Would be a bit brutal to trade Fraley after he played the last month for this team on a broken foot. But hey it’s a business….

      • Stock

        The Reds are in a unique position.

        They have seven players for four spots (Votto (assuming he comes back), Steer, CES, India, EDLC, McLain and Marte. In this group the only one who has not proven he is here to stay (in my eyes) is EDLC. You can also argue that because of his age Votto has to re-prove himself every year.

        If after the AFL is over the Reds deem Hurtubise ready for the show they can trade India and Fraley for prospects to beef up their farm.

        IF: Steer 1B, McLain 2B, EDLC SS, Marte 3B,
        OF: Hurtubise LF, Friedl CF, Benson RF, CES DH

        If Hurtubise proves he is not ready you have Dunn, Fairchild or Votto to replace him.

    • mac624

      The bottom line is the team is a lot better than in years past, but not good enough to get to the playoffs. The main questions to answer first are simply these. Are we good enough to be a playoff team without all the injuries and are we a good enough team as these rookies mature and learn how to be better situational players in games to be a playoff team? If both questions are answered yes, then I’m not sure you’ll see much added to the current roster. If one of those questions is a no, then you have to address that first with adding players to make it a yes.

      Now that said, I fully expect them to at minimum add a starting pitcher, another relief arm, and I won’t be shocked to see them add a vet bat somewhere either especially if we’ve seen the last of Votto. Time will tell.

      Good to have tough 40-man decisions for once. Will be an interesting winter.

      • Tom

        With such a low payroll next year, they could literally sign 3-4 top free agents to an average of 4 years, add 2-3 long term extensions to the current team, and barely be where their payroll was 2 years ago. I’m all for Hader, Chapman, and Snell!

  4. DaveCT

    Surprise, Hurtubise starting snd leading off tonight for… wait for it … Surprise.

    He’s here all week, folks.