Minor League Baseball had their first ever “MiLB Awards” show this week. It aired on MLB Network and there were a whole lot of awards that were handed out for the 2023 season. While no Reds farm teams or players were nominated or won any of the specific awards, Minor League Baseball did select a 1st and 2nd “All MiLB Team” for player performance. It was not the first year for this – they’ve done it since 2015. But the teams were announced during the Awards show. The Reds did have a player on the 1st team as outfielder Blake Dunn was honored for his big season.

It was a big, breakout season for Blake Dunn. It’s possible he could have broken out sooner had he had the opportunity, but injuries had kept him off of the field for much of the first two seasons after he was drafted in 2021 out of Western Michigan. While on the field prior to 2021 he had performed well, he just had limited action on the field. In 2023 the outfielder stayed on the field and he put up big numbers. He began the year in High-A Dayton before being promoted to Double-A after 44 games. Dunn would spend the rest of the season there.

In all, he would play 124 games in the regular season after having just 48 games under his belt in 2021 and 2022 combined. Dunn made up for lost time as he hit .312/.425/.522 in his 559 plate appearances. He put up that slash line while hitting 17 doubles, 5 triples, and 23 home runs. Dunn also stole 54 bases. He was only the second player since 1960 in the Reds farm system (which is as far back as we have full records) to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases in the same season. Dunn joined Gary Redus, who accomplished the feat back in 1982 with Indianapolis.

Arizona Fall League debuts

Last night the Arizona Fall League kicked off their season. Two Cincinnati Reds prospects got into the game. Jacob Hurtubise started the game in left field and hit leadoff. He would walk to lead off the 1st inning and in the 5th inning he would pick up an infield hit. He would finish the game 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout.

Zach Maxwell pitched the 8th inning for Surprise. He’d give up two singles, two steals, and a run to go along with two strikeouts in his inning of work.

Leo Balcazar Update

After a strong start to the 2023 season, shortstop Leo Balcazar tore his ACL after scoring the winning run in a walk-off win in late April. He’s been out in Arizona at the Reds complex doing his rehab work. Yesterday he posted on instagram some video of him hitting off of a tee and doing some glove work on the field. It’s possible that I missed video of that previously, but I believe that’s the first time he’s shared video of either. Both are good signs as he’s still less than six months out from having surgery.

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16 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    Dunn would be a sell high candidate for me. Happy for him that he had a great year but as a later round pick the probability he becomes an impact type player versus a utility/glue guy are very low. Pair him and Hinds and a top 100 guy (Cabrera?) and go get Cease!

    • Optimist

      Sultan, the trade idea has merit, of course, but Dunn’s season puts him well past the “later round pick” bias. His prior record shows that this season was simply confirmation – he’s an excellent later round pick, and probably should have gone higher.

      RedBB’s comment is correct – a season like this simply confirms you’re a later developer, and moreso in Dunn’s case given the odd injury/Covid seasons he’s been thru.

      He’ll soar up the prospect lists, and with a hot spring who knows . . .

    • Stock

      I am with you Optimist. I have Dunn in my 7th prospect and Cabrera as my 8th prospect. I am a believer. In fact I think there is a chance Dunn is a top 100 prospect either this winter or next year.

      • MBS

        I’m probably too high on Dunn, but I know I wouldn’t trade him. He seems to be a complete player. Good hitter with power, speed, and defense. He has pretty reasonable splits as well.

        I’d like to see an eventual outfield mix of Dunn, Steer, Friedl, and Benson. That’s a nice mix, with Hurtubise maybe being the 5th. He’d serve mostly as a defensive replacement, pinch hitter, and pinch runner, letting the other 4 soak up the majority of the starts.

    • Stock

      I hope that if the Reds acquire a SP this winter it is a sure-fire top of the order SP.

      I consider Williamson the #5 SP going into Spring Training. Right on his heels is Phillips, Richardson, Petty and Lowder.

      Last year Williamson had an ERA of 4.46. Cease had an ERA of 4.58. They were about equal last year. I do think Cease is better but I don’t think he is so much better that the Reds should trade quality prospects to acquire him for 2 years. I like The SP the Reds have and love their depth.

      I would pursue FA Josh Hader and Craig Kimbrel. This would give the Reds a back end similar to the nasty boys. SP would know if they can go 6 the bullpen is ready to bring it home.

      Assuming the White Sox do not exercise the team option on Hendriks I would try to acquire him in Free Agency also. He will not be ready until August at the earliest but would be a fantastic add to the bullpen when ready.

      • MBS

        I am 100% there with you @Stock. Top of the order starter, Kimbrel, and Chapman is my wish list. I’m also leaning toward moving Lodolo to the pen.

        We’d have Greene, and Ashcraft from the right side, with Abbott, and Williamson from the left. I’d be happy with Snell or Gray as our frontline starter.

        I also like the idea of Yamamoto, but I don’t like the 10 year long contract rumors. If he signs for 5 years, he’d be probably my pick of the 3 FA starters mentioned.

      • Stock

        Excellent idea MBS, I would love to acquire Snell or Gray. Instead of moving Lodolo to the bullpen I would love to see him and Antone become openers. They would go 2-4 innings every 4 days. When/If deemed ready Phillips and Richardson could eventually join them. This would give the Reds an opener every day.

        Between the opener and the SP they should be able to go at least 7 innings and 8 innings on most days. The last inning or two you have nasty boys version II (Diaz, Hader, Kimbrel) ready and able.

      • DW

        Stock, I completely agree with pretty much everything, except for Kimberly. I really hope they don’t go that route.

      • MBS

        Interesting, but if we went that route we’d basically be piggybacking. It might make FA starters not want to come here, so that could be a downside. Let’s say it didn’t cause a problem, then maybe you actually shoot for an 8 man group that piggybacks on a 4 day rest.

        Snell 4, Phillips 4, Chapman 1
        Greene 4, Lodolo 4, Diaz 1
        Abbott 4, Richardson 4, Moll 1
        Ashcraft 4, Williamson 4, Kimbrel 1

        The 13th man could be utilized if 1 of the 8 needs an early out, but that shouldn’t come up too often if you’re only asking starters to go 4. Blowouts will occur so the 13th guy could be used in those situations as well.

        I think I’d lean more towards the traditional roles, but starters are going shorter and shorter every year, so you might just be ahead of the curve. If they lowered the W’s to 4 IP that could also help usher in this style.

    • DaveCT

      His pre-draft scouting report had all sorts of plus tools and skills, ie. arm, speed, power, defense, with concerns about the hit tool. Even then, he profiled as a 4th/5th OF. Id say the hit tool concerns had been improved upon and, even if he still is rated as a RH TJ Friedl, that’s really good value, one, and a pretty darn good ML regular.

  2. MK

    I hope Andrew More wasn’t seriously injured Tuesday in Arizona. Following the Surprise game with Gameday he came in to get the last out of one inning then came out for a second inning. A couple baserunners got on.the Moore got a DP. After the DP there was a injury delay and when they started play again Moore had been removed from the game.


    No real #1 SP are free agents. Gray is a #2. Snell had a great year, but not worth the money for 4 to 7 yrs. You rarely see a Japanese SP come in and pitch like Senga or Darvish.
    I don’t like Lodolo in the pen. Like to see some 30/32 starts from what we got. I’m expecting Phillips to be in AAA until someone gets injured.
    Bullpen and 1 OF should be enough until the Trade deadline.
    I’m actually happy with the roster and development of most of our prospects.
    I’m also the same man who predicted that they would lose 100+ games.

    • Optimist

      Snell is arguably a #1 (he’s a CYA winner – that’s #1 by definition), but he’s 3 years younger than Sonny and will certainly command a 4+ yr deal. Extremely unlikely the Reds want that kind of time/money deal. Sonny, though, may go for a higher AAV/3 year deal, which should be (it’s the Reds) well inside their plans. There are some others in the 2-3 year range – they need at least one of them.

  4. LDS

    I see a number of Reds MiLB players elected FA: Lopez, Mariot, Herget, Mills, and Reynolds. Best of luck to them all. Doubt there’s a road back to Cincinnati for any of them.