One of my favorite stats to talk about comes courtesy of Jacob Hurtubise. He never homered in little league, or high school. He then failed to homer while in college. Despite that he showed enough baseball skill to become a professional. In his first full season as a pro in 2021 he didn’t homer. Then in 2022 he didn’t homer either…. until the final game of the season – his 165th professional game.

While the two things probably aren’t related, we can pretend that Jacob Hurtubise took that final game homer in 2022 and rode that high into the 2023 season where he put together his best season yet. After beginning the season 0-7, the outfielder went 15-45 the rest of April and he hit three (!) home runs. He didn’t carry that forward into May, starting the month out by going 1-17. He broke out of that slump with a 3-hit day and finished the month by hitting .368 in the final nine games.

From that point forward, Hurtubise never looked back. He hit .319 in June, splitting time in both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville where he would spend two weeks before returning to the Lookouts. In July and August he hit .353/.483/.517 in 36 games before being promoted to Louisville on the 23rd of August. In the final 29 games of his season, and at the highest level of the minors, he just kept on collecting hits as he hit .374 with 26 walks and just 12 strikeouts.

When the season was over Jacob Hurtubise had a .330 batting average, a .479 on-base percentage, and a .483 slugging percentage. He set a career high with seven home runs and 10 triples, and he coupled that with 11 doubles. In his 119 games he stole 45 bases in 54 tries, and he walked 77 times while striking out just 63 times in 455 plate appearances.

While the award is called the “hitter” of the year, this is more about offense as a whole than just “hitting” and that non-hitting stuff that Hurtubise did in 2023 is what gave him the edge over the rest of the players in the organization. Carrying a .330 average at the two highest level of the minors was good enough to lead the organization among players with 350 or more plate appearances. He also led the organization in on-base percentage and OPS. The 77 walks were third best in the organization, his 45 steals were second, his 10 triples were tied for second, and the 102 runs scored were also second best.

40 Responses

  1. Jonathan

    Hi. how does Jacob Hurtubise speed compare to other prospects and MLB players? 10 triples and the .450+ OPS is very impressive. Good combination if he can keep that up

    • MK

      When he was in Dayton it was reported that he was the fastest guy in the orgaization. Of course this was before Elly had made it stateside.

      • Doug Gray

        While he wasn’t in Louisville all year, we’ve got plenty of games where we’ve got sprint speed data. Hurtubise is very fast, but at least according to the sprint speed stat, he’s not the fastest. He’s around as fast as TJ Hopkins, Noelvi Marte, and Carlos Jorge.

  2. Jonathan

    Looking at fangraphs is shows Jacob Hurtubise lead all of MiLB in OPS of players who were above complex and Dominican leagues. is that right?

    • Doug Gray

      No, it’s not. Where he ranks exactly depends on what you want to set the PA threshold at. But Austin Shenton had 577 of them (AA/AAA) and had an OPS of 1.006. He led the minors among players over 500 PA. Michael Busch was at 1.049, but had 469 PA in AAA.

  3. Optimist

    Is Steven Kwan a good comparison? They’re almost the same age. Does Hurtubise have an edge on defense, can he stick in CF?

    There are opportunities in the Reds OF and if either Dunn or Hurtubise continue to excel they move quickly, especially if any of the current crop falter.

  4. MK

    I have always wondered how a player, who on the strength of his offense, is selected the Player of the Year, but is not also the Offensive Player of the year. I often thought the Reds did this so they could have an extra presentation at Redsfest, but it really made no sense to me. The same would be if Player of the Year is a pitcher andthere be another person the Pitcher of the Year.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s just about recognizing someone else (at least in my case).

  5. Laredo Slider

    Looks like a carbon copy of Freidl and you can have only one Freidl-type in the OF at a time.

    • Optimist

      You can have two of these if their defense is excellent. Friedl is very good, but don’t know that he’d be considered excellent. Don’t know this about Hurtubise – suppose it depends on arm strength, IIRC from many comments here and elsewhere he apparently has the speed, range and recognition skills to excel.

      You just need them to be more that simple “late inning defensive replacements”.

    • Stock

      I think you are considering Friedl as a singles hitter (ala Billy Hamilton). He is more than that. His 2023 ISO (0.188) was higher than 7 of the 9 regulars on the Big Red Machine (Perez, Morgan, Concepcion, Rose, Geronimo, Griffey and Driessen) It was bested by only Foster (.218) and Bench (0.236).

      In fact if you remove Friedl’s bunt’s his ISO is a very solid .201

      • DaveCT

        Agreed. Friedl’s power is quite solid. Hurtubise’s power is not yet average

      • Optimist

        Oh no – Friedl is far more than a singles hitter. My concern is whether either is a noticeably better defender than the other; and, have we seen peak Friedl?

        The issue they have is that the OF is full of complementary players, but no near-star, all-star, power hitting regular – nothing that they complement. Hurtubise is another complementary player, but with a different skill set than the existing roster.

        No doubt Hurtubise has little or no power, but if he’s superior on defense, and the speed can turn walks/singles into doubles, he’s a step up form the 25/26th roster spot players they’ve had the past few seasons.

        Another view to consider – would he be better than a Lopez/Fairchild/Martini? They seem a good composite for the spot he’d be taking if he’s on the 26 man roster.

      • DaveCT

        Suspect we’ll have to wait until the 2023 scouting reports get published to see what his arm is like. I’ve read it’s fringe average, whether that is still true, who knows.

      • Doug Gray

        So we’re working with some limited Hawkeye data in Triple-A, but Hurtubise had some strong throws in his time there. I’d say at worst it’s average in terms of the arm strength itself. When I get to the scouting reports I’ll have a better grasp on all of the data by then. I just took a quick glance to see what was there.

      • MBS

        @Optimist “The issue they have is that the OF is full of complementary players, but no near-star, all-star” This is a problem across the board with our team.

        CES, and EDLC might become the big bats we need in the middle of the lineup. Personally I’d like to add one if not two 30+ HR guys in free agency this offseason.

        If they do that it will take some of the pressure off the young hitters, and provide some protection for them as well.

      • DaveCT

        MBS, their outfielders hit about 90 HR’scombined, about 30 per position. This is the flaw and the beauty of the platoon outfield, isn’t it? Production (of more limited players) based upon matchups and platoon splits vs single bat production of a Mookie Betts or a Ronald Acuna. All things considered, give me the superstar. Besides, most reserves behind the superstars are decent … platoon split guys. Exactly what we have.

      • BK

        CES is already the power bat we need–his 162-game average would project to 33 HRs–we need him to replicate his rookie performance over an entire season. There are good reasons to expect improved power from Marte and EDLC, too.

        As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the OF would improve by finding a better platoon match for Fraley or Benson (Steer and Friedl can man two OF spots against LHP). Senzel seems like the perfect platoon partner, but having two players with extreme splits leads to many suboptimal plate appearances and ties up a bench spot with a player who creates an offensive hole if asked to cover several games for an injured player.

        All considered, seeking power-hitting starters for the OF ranks well below the need to improve the pitching staff. Finding a bench player who bet compliments Fraley and Benson is relatively easy. Lastly, with Dunn and Hinds poised for AAA, this calls for a more short-term fix than going out and acquiring all-star caliber talent on the FA or trade markets.

      • MBS

        This is my descending order of importance for adding to the 24 roster.

        1 SP ace type, or #2 starter at worst
        2 C/SU
        3 Bat middle of the order
        4 C/SU
        5 Bat middle of the order
        I’m just going to go with the guys I’ve been wanting to add but this lineup would be formidable

        1 India / Marte 20 – 25 HR’s Combined
        2 Friedl / Fraley 20 – 25 HR’s
        3 McLain / Marte 28 – 32 HR’s
        4 Bellinger / Fraley 30 – 35 HR’s
        5 CES / Stephenson 28 – 32 HR’s
        6 Soler / Stephenson 35 – 40 HR’s
        7 EDLC / Marte 20 – 25 HR’s
        8 Steer / Fraley 23 – 27 HR’s
        9 Maile / Stephenson 15 – 20 HR’s

        That’s a long lineup with great bench options, maybe carry Martini, Fairchild, or Hopkins as the 13th man. Again these are my choices, but plug in your favorite power hitting FA’s/trade acquisitions.

      • MBS

        wow I forgot Benson, that team is deep, they’d need to trade one of India or Fraley to be able to give enough AB’s to everyone.

      • BK

        @MBS, I don’t see the need to shell out the multi-year big contracts to bring in Soler and Bellinger, given that they would displace Marte, Fraley, and Benson from most lineups. Benson and Fraley are both .800+ OPS guys on the strong side of a platoon. Marte needs to start. There are not enough PAs to avoid displacing a couple of these players. Soler is a marginal benefit player–he would fit only in a bench role. Bellinger will be right behind Ohtani (provided Ohtani doesn’t elect to devote 2024 to rehab) as far as FA position players–he would be an upgrade, but he will be very pricy–does he provide enough marginal value to warrant the long-term investment?

        Making this many FA acquisitions would work in a 2024 budget but would mark a reversal of the Red’s apparent strategy of building primarily from the farm. Down the road, this strategy could force the Reds to jettison players as they go through the arbitration process. The ten percent increases you included in your post at RLN to account for arb increases are well shy of actual arb pay jumps for good+ players.

        Fraley, Benson, Friedl, Marte, EDLC, McLain, India, Steer, and CES give the Reds a young core to build around–somebody must already sit every day among this talented group. More good players behind them will start 2024 at AAA or AA. All are league-average to above-average players—all are young and inexpensive. Many can be reasonably expected to improve.

        Teams are going through more than twenty pitchers each season today. While the Reds have some solid arms on the farm, the axiom “you can never have too much pitching” rings true today more than ever. The focus should be improving the pitching and building a bench that complements the core.

      • DaveCT

        BK, interesting tidbit from the BA article on best increases in exit velo during the 23 season is that Marte was one of the best.

        Doug has discussed exit velo here, but the article (paywall) really corroborates his take that the exit velo mattering most is the 90th percentile plus aversge, not the overall average. And this is where Marte did really well.

      • MBS

        @BK, I think you know my general line of thinking when it comes to playing time.

        C Maile 6/9 Stephenson 3/9
        DH Soler 7/9 Stephenson 2/9
        1B CES 7/9 Stephenson 2/9
        2B India 7/9 Marte 2/9
        3B EDLC 7/9 Marte 2/9
        SS McLain 7/9 Marte 2/9
        RF Benson 7/9 Friedl 2/9
        CF Bellinger 7/9 Friedl 2/9
        RF Steer 7/9 Friedl 2/9

        That’s a lot of starts for 12 very good baseball players, so I don’t think playing time would be an issue.

        Bellinger 4.4 WAR – Fraley 0.9 WAR, Soler 1.8 WAR – Senzel 0.0 WAR It’s expensive, but it could be the difference between being a WS contender verses a wild card contender.

        As far as the annual increases, that’s impossible to predict, but you have to keep in mind that I had Chapman coming off after 2 years – 7M, Kimbrel coming off after 3 years – 8M, Soler coming off after 4 years – 14 M. India is also likely a casualty by 2025 to be replaced by Arroyo.

        So by year 5 the only contracts remaining would be Bellinger, and Snell, and that will be 47.5M. Greene would also have a contract of 16.33M for a total of 63.88M in contracts. I just used a 10% increase, per year, but that annual increase got us to a 155.92M payroll in 2028, leaving 92.04 to cover the other 23 players. Lets do some comparisons, and I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I’m going to hit submit either way.

        Abbott ARB 2 comp Burns Arb 2 Comp 10M
        McLain ARB 2 comp Adames Arb 2 Comp 8.7M
        Ashacraft ARB 4 comp Woodruff 11.6M
        CES ARB 2 comp Alonzo 14.5M
        EDLC ARB 2 comp Kyle Tucker ARB 2 12.6M
        Marte Arb 2 comp Adames ARB 2 8.7M

        I think we’d all be very happy if our guys have similar outcomes as the group listed above, and their ARB #’s would total 66.1M.

        That leaves 25.94M to round out a roster with. I’m not saying my 10% increase is the number, but it’s not an unreasonable number. We are likely to shed payroll as we go when new kids come up and older more expensive guys get traded.

  6. Michael Wilson

    Besides his speed what impresses me is his walks and ability to get on base. In the AZL he is scoring a lot of runs yet the batting average is ok but not great. Stealing a lot of bases also.

    • MK

      I think Jacob is running out of gas. In the last 10-days he has gone from .320 to .265. Last AFL start he hit 9th rather than first for first time. Been a long season from February to November, especially with his 100% motor, 100% of the time.

  7. Optimist

    Another interesting thing about Hurtubise is that he’s honing the skills in exactly the direction MLB is changing the rules – speed/larger-bases, and robo-umps. Doubtful the Reds planned this when drafted, but very good to take advantage of the opportunity presented.

    • DaveCT

      I still think his best comp is Brett Butler, including his profile as a LF due to arm strength. And, ironically, Butler was in camp last spring with the Reds. Given the changes in the game, as you note, there does seem to be a path forward for him.

      • DaveCT

        Same, until this year with 18 home runs. Now, if we can keep Friedl from denting the outfield walls.

  8. MBS

    Reds MILB Fantasy Baseball team of the year

    C Pereda .873 OPS, 1B Free .820 OPS
    2B Jorge .883 OPS, 3B Stewart .811 OPS
    SS Barrero .873 OPS, RF Hopkins .925 OPS
    CF Dunn .947 OPS, LF Hurtubise .961 OPS

    I basically just went with highest OPS with a minimum amount of games played. The cool thing I noticed after I was done, is 6 if the 8 could help the team in 24. Only 2 are lower minor leagues guys.

  9. Marty

    Speed was really important back during the BRM years on the concrete turf of Riverfront..In tiny AABP it also seems to play well.

    • DaveCT

      Especially with bats that are not (yet) really effective power bats. They may be, and soon, too (CES, EDLC, Marte) but with the gap hitters and line drive power on the teammate present, team speed is good.

    • RedBB

      He did go 2-4 last night with 3 RBI’s and a double in the 9 hole. Saguero’s won 12-10 lol.

  10. RedBB

    Doug, Can you comment on his D overall? Is he average, above average, GG level defense in the Outfield. How does he compare to Siani or Dunn? I think that will be key in terms of how much he plays at the MLB level. TIA