In past years the All-Star team for the organization (as picked by me) has featured two teams. One was for the full-season players and the other was for the rookie-level teams. But when Major League Baseball stepped in and eliminated the non-complex league rookie teams it made it a bit silly to have an All-Star team for just two rookie-level teams. So for the last three years there’s just one club and it can and does lead to some very deserving players being left off. With that said, here’s the Cincinnati Reds 2023 Minor League All-Star team.

Catcher: Chuckie Robinson

This is the second year in a row that Robinson gets the nod at the catcher position on the All-Star team. His 2023 campaign was quite a bit better than last year. Robinson played 101 games this past year – all with Triple-A Louisville. In his 413 plate appearances he hit .290/.356/.450. That came with 16 doubles, 2 triples, 13 home runs, and 74 runs batted in. He also added in seven stolen bases.

First Base: Christian Encarnacion-Strand

The season didn’t get out to a great start for Christian Encarnacion-Strand. That’s not because he wasn’t playing well – he simply wasn’t playing. He began the season on the injured list and missed the first three weeks. But once he arrived in Louisville he flat out crushed the ball and never looked back until he was called up to Cincinnati. Encarnacion-Strand played in just 67 games for the Bats, but he hit .331/.405/.637 and hit 20 home runs – tied for 5th best on the farm.

Second Base: Carlos Jorge

In some ways the 2023 season was much like the previous two seasons for Carlos Jorge, but it was a little different in some others. Starting with what was the same – he was arguably the best hitter in the league he played in once again. He led the Florida State League in OPS and if we include his promotion late in the year to Dayton he hit .282/.374/.464 on the year with 14 doubles, 10 triples, 12 home runs, and he stole 32 bases. What was different is that he spent time at two levels – Mostly in Daytona with the Tortugas but saw late-season time with the Dragons. The other difference was that after spending much of the year at second, he began to see some action in center field in the second half.

Third Base: Sal Stewart

The season got out to a bit of a slow start for Sal Stewart. He was hitting just .216 and slugging .266 through the end of May with Daytona. But from June through the end of the season he hit .301 and slugged .484. That improved his line on the season to .275/.396/.416 in 518 plate appearances and also earned him a promotion for the final month of the year to Dayton. He would also steal 15 bases on the season.

Shortstop: Jose Barrero

Similar to Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Jose Barrero played about half of a season in the farm system. Barrero began the year in Cincinnati but was optioned to the minors in June where he joined Louisville. In 80 games with the Bats he hit .258/.333/.540. That came along with 17 doubles, 4 triples, 19 home runs, and he stole 20 bases in 21 attempts. While his playing time wasn’t quite up there with some other options here, his impact and production was high.

Outfield: Blake Dunn

The 2023 season saw Blake Dunn do something that only one other Reds minor league player has done since 1960 when we have full stats for everyone in the minors. He joined Gary Redus in 1982 by hitting 20+ home runs and stealing 50+ bases. Dunn began the year with Dayton, but a hot start led to a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga and he hit even better there. Between his two stops he hit .312/.425/.522 in 124 games. In there he had 17 doubles, 5 triples, 23 home runs, 54 steals, 107 runs scored, and he had 79 runs batted in.

Outfield: Jacob Hurtubise

Teammates with Dunn for a bit in Chattanooga, Jacob Hurtubise had a big time breakout season. After having just one home run in his life – at any and all levels he had ever played baseball, not just professionally – he came out and hit seven of them in 2023. He would split time between Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, playing in 119 games and getting 455 plate appearances. Hurtubise hit .330/.479/.483 during the year with 11 doubles, 10 triples, and the previously mentioned 7 home runs. He also added in 45 stolen bases.

Outfield: Rece Hinds

More than a few times in 2023 the Lookouts had Dunn, Hurtubise and Rece Hinds all in the same outfield. That’s probably one of the reasons they made the Southern League playoffs this season. Hinds got out to a slow start, but started to pick things up in late May and over his final 74 games put up an OPS of .991. In all, he hit .269/.330/.536 in 109 games for Chattanooga. In his 461 plate appearances he had 29 doubles, 6 triples, 23 home runs, and he stole 20 bases. He added in 98 RBI to lead the organization, too.

Designated Hitter: Ricardo Cabrera

The 18-year-old picked up right where he left off in 2022 – crushing the ball. Cabrera began his season in the Arizona Complex League where he hit .350/.469/.559. His 1.028 OPS was the second best in the league. In his 39 games played out in Arizona he was 4th in the league with 21 steals (in 23 attempts). After that league’s season ended he was pushed up to Single-A Daytona where he spent the final week with the Tortugas. In his five games there he went 6-19 (.316) with five walks (.519 on-base percentage).

Starting Pitcher: Connor Phillips

One of just six pitchers to throw 100 innings on the farm in 2023, Connor Phillips posted a 3.86 ERA in 25 games between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. He gave up 91 hits, walked 57, and finished second in the farm system with 154 strikeouts. Late in the year he got called up to the big leagues and would make five starts for Cincinnati.

Starting Pitcher: Julian Aguiar

Like Connor Phillips, Julian Aguiar topped the 100 inning mark and he split his season in the minor leagues between two levels. He was dominant in the first half with Dayton, posting a 1.92 ERA in 14 starts before being promoted to Double-A. Once he joined the Lookouts he made 11 more starts with a 4.28 ERA. Overall he had a 2.95 ERA in 125.0 innings – that led the farm system. He picked up 138 strikeouts and had just 37 walks on the season.

Starting Pitcher: Chase Petty

Cincinnati limited Chase Petty to 4-innings or a pitch count of around 65, whichever came first. Petty was coming off of an injury he suffered prior to the start of the season and missed the first five weeks. But once he returned to the mound, and for as long as he was on it, he dominated. The limits on his usage kept him at 68.0 innings on the year despite making 18 starts between Dayton (16 starts) and Chattanooga (2 starts). Over those 18 starts he posted a 1.72 ERA and didn’t allow a home run all year. He walked just 15 batters and picked up 66 strikeouts while holding hitters to a .246/.292/.301 line on the season.

Relief Pitcher: Michael Byrne

A year can make all of the difference. And for Michael Byrne it certainly did. He spent all of 2022 in Chattanooga and posted a 4.61 ERA in 37 relief appearances. The righty returned this season and once again spent his entire season with the Lookouts, but his ERA dropped to 2.77 in 31 games. During that time he threw 52.0 innings, walked just 16 batters, and he struck out 63.

Relief Pitcher: Brooks Crawford

In a bit of a funny twist, Brooks Crawford – a reliever – threw more innings than one of the starters on this All-Star team. The righty pitched in 40 games between Dayton (38 games) and Chattanooga (2 games) and ate up 85.1 innings. He did that while going 7-1, picking up three saves, posting a 3.38 ERA, walking 33 batters, and picking up 81 strikeouts.

22 Responses

    • BK

      His OBP is great, but it would be nice to see him display more power.

    • Doug Gray

      Ah crap! I forgot the DH – which I had on my spreadsheet. But it’s not going to be Duno. Back to edit the post!

    • Doug Gray

      There were a few guys that were real tough to leave off the list. Rodriguez was one. But do you take him over any of the other three outfielders, all of whom played at higher levels and had big production? If you don’t, maybe you put him at the DH, but then you leave off Cabrera, who had the 2nd highest OPS in the system from a player who had at least 200 plate appearances (and 21 steals in 44 games). Do you take Rodriguez over a guy like TJ Hopkins, who put up a .924 OPS in AAA? What about Matt Reynolds who had an .865 OPS with 38 doubles, 20 homers, and 90 RBI in AAA (if we’re just talking DH here)? Tough choices.

      Pitching wise I went back and forth with Chase Petty and Jose Acuna. Acuna had a good lead in innings and was still a good starter, but Petty won me over with the run prevention at the level it was. Had his ERA been, say, 2.50 instead, I may have gone with Acuna due to the innings.

  1. BK

    Any color commentary on why Barrero (wRC+ 110) over Cabrera (wRC+ 158)? Alternatively, Arroyo logged about a 110 wRC+ across two levels and a whole season in the minors. Given they are much younger prospects that were climbing levels vice repeating a level, it would seem they both had better years.

      • Doug Gray

        That was a big internal debate but it came down to 100+ plate appearances while having similar stats for Stewart.

    • Doug Gray

      Barrero (and Arroyo) over Cabrera for defensive considerations, for sure.

      Barrero over Arroyo was closer. Almost went Arroyo, but call me a sucker for nearly going 20/20 in about half a season at a much higher level for Barrero. Repeating a level matters none. This isn’t a prospect list.

      • BK

        Yep, I get it’s not a prospect list. However, when you make a prospect list you consider a player’s age against the level they are playing because it’s more impressive when a younger player adjusts faster or performs better. A younger player excelling at a higher level is simply more impressive than an older player repeating a level from a performance perspective. Also, your methodology gave Barrero a pass for his time with the Reds that went poorly–an advantage his competitors didn’t get.

        I’ve said this a couple of times before, but offensive numbers in the IL skewed very high. Focusing on counting numbers (i.e., almost going 20/20) vs. a stat like wRC+ or OPS+ doesn’t lead to the best comparisons across multiple levels and leagues.

        That said, I like the rest of the list and appreciate you sharing your thought process.

      • Doug Gray

        What Barrero did with the Reds doesn’t matter to a minor league all star list, though.

        Barrero had an OPS 80 points better than the International League OPS.
        Arroyo had an OPS 47 points better than the Midwest League OPS.

        Barrero’s home park in Louisville was a pitcher friendly park compared to the International League average this year.
        Arroyo’s home park in Dayton was the second best park for hitters in the Midwest League this year.

        Age doesn’t matter here. It’s about the numbers.

      • BK

        I understand your methodology, but it led to a really strange outcome–a player earned “Allstar” recognition after getting demoted due to poor performance, beating out a player who outperformed him in the minors over the same period of time.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t think that player outperformed him in the minors.

        I also don’t count big league time for a minor league All-Star team.

      • BK

        According to Fangraphs, Barrero had a 110 wRC+ at Louisville. Arroyo had a 108 and 153 wRC+ at Dayton and Chattanooga respectively. In short, they did essentially the same except that Arroyo’s included his first two months when he logged a sub-600 OPS at Dayton. So, Arroyo’s early season slump pulled his numbers down to where they were essentially even with Barrero. Barrero’s slump didn’t hurt him since it came outside MiLB. That’s why I believe Arroyo outperformed Barrero over the same time. Like I said, I understand why you didn’t count Barrero’s MLB numbers, but it worked against the player who spent the full season in the minors.

      • BK

        Per glossary, “wRC+ quantifies run creation and normalizes it, so we can compare players who play in different ballparks and even different eras…”

        or in this case leagues.

      • Doug Gray

        They are getting very different data when it comes to the park factors for 2023 than what Baseball America got. Maybe it’s because they haven’t updated them for 2023 or something – but the park factors were very clear that Louisville was a pitcher friendly park compared to other IL parks and that Dayton was the second most hitter friendly park in the MWL this year. So unless what BA found with regards to the park factors is incredibly inaccurate, that math just doesn’t add up at Fangraphs for their adjustment to “weight” it.

      • BK

        Interesting … thanks for the explanation(s)!!! I would have never guessed park factor changes from one year to the next could vary so much.

  2. Chi Reds Fan

    Is it fair to assume at the appropriate time and place, each All Star will be personally presented an engraved, gold plated pizza by Mr. Gray memorializing their inclusion on the RML 2023 all star team?