The 2022 season went out with a bang for Jacob Hurtubise. For the first time at any level in his entire life he hit a baseball over the fence for a home run. That was the 165th professional game he had played in.

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When the 2023 season began the Cincinnati Reds sent Jacob Hurtubise back to Chattanooga where he played all 63 games of the previous year. He only played in three games over the first nine days of the season and went 0-7 with two walks. But he started to play a little more often after that and started picking up hits left and right. From April 15th through the end of the month he played in 13 games and hit .333/.466/.556 and hit three home runs.

That hot hitting did not carry forward into May. He didn’t play much in the first half of the month, getting into just eight games through the 18th and went just 1-17 in that time frame. On May 20th he would go 3-5 with a double and a home run against Biloxi, and followed it up with a 1-2 with day with two walks. But he only had three hits the rest of the month – though one of those hits was another home run, giving him five on the season through 33 games.

In early June he was sent up to Triple-A to fill in when they needed an outfielder, but in 12 days with the Bats he only started one game and went 5-9 in seven games played before he was sent back to Double-A. Upon the return to Chattanooga, Hurtubise saw more playing time, but the hits didn’t start to come through right away. That changed in July when he had hits in 17 of the 18 games he got an at-bat in and hit .388 for the Lookouts. He also stole what was a season high (at that point) 12 bases during the month.

While the hitting slowed down a bit in the first three weeks of August, Hurtubise was still racking up hits. In 16 games with the Lookouts in August he hit .306/.485/.510 with more walks than strikeouts – earning a promotion to Triple-A. The hitting didn’t slow down once he got back to Louisville, going 10-22 in the final eight games of the month while striking out just twice. August also featured 13 more stolen bases.

That hot hitting kept on going into September for the outfielder. In 21 games he went 24-69 (.348) with nearly twice as many walks as he had strikeouts. That led to a .500 on-base percentage during the month. His nine steals also pushed his season total to 45.

Following the regular season he was sent to Arizona to play in the Arizona Fall League. In 23 games there he hit .267/.380/.311 with 11 steals in 11 tries, and he had 16 walks and 23 strikeouts in 108 plate appearances.

For all 2023 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Jacob Hurtubise Scouting Report

Position: Outfield | B/T: L/R

Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 180 lbs. | Acquired: Undrafted FA (2020) | Born: December 11, 1997

Hitting | He has a fringe-average hit tool.

Power | He has well below-average power.

Speed | He’s a plus runner.

Defense | He’s an above-average defender.

Arm | He has an average arm.

The 2023 season was a big time breakout for Jacob Hurtubise. Between his two stops he played in 119 games and hit .330/.479/.483 and walked more than he struck out. He also added in 45 steals for good measure. Hurtubise also turned 26-years-old last month and doesn’t quite have as much time as younger guys would in terms of both development and future opportunities.

At the plate there wasn’t much to look at last season and find much negatives. He hit for a very high average and for the first time in his career gave pitchers at least an inkling of an idea that they couldn’t just groove one of the plate against him and he could put it over the fence. His power improved, but he is still near the bottom of the scale when it comes to power. His exit velocities are very low no matter how you try to slice it. Of the 550 players with at least 100 Triple-A plate appearances, Hurtubise ranked 546th with an 81.5 MPH average exit velocity.

The low exit velocities certainly come into play with his power. But it may also come into play with his hit tool. Hitting the ball hard matters to an extent with regards to being able to get hits. It’s not the only thing, though. Hurtubise makes contact at a good rate, which pushes back some on the “doesn’t hit the ball hard” side of the hit tool. He can and does use the entire field, making it tougher to align your defense against him. And he’s also a good bunter and his speed allows him to gain some additional infield hits – he had 27 of them in 2023. Pitching, defense, and scouting is all better at the big league level. Hurtubise doesn’t have much wiggle room at the plate, so there are reasons to question just how well what he does will translate.

What doesn’t have much question around it is his speed. He’s got plenty of it and he uses it well. He’s stolen 111 bases and been caught just 22 times in 307 games since becoming a pro. In the field he can handle center where his speed gives him plenty of range. While his arm won’t be exposed in right field, he’s a better fit in left than in right.

With his ability to make contact, a strong understanding of the strikezone, his speed, and his defense, Hurtubise could profile well as a 5th outfielder who can help a team out in multiple ways. Whether or not he can be a starting caliber outfielder, though, is a big question revolving around just how what he can do in the batters box translates. It feels much safer to project him as a bench outfielder than a starter, though.

Video

Jacob Hurtubise Spray Chart

Interesting Stat on Jacob Hurtubise

When facing younger pitchers he hit .372/.512/.593 in 266 plate appearances. Against pitchers who were older than he was he hit .273/.433/.329. His lone home run against a pitcher older than he was did not leave the ballpark, but was an inside-the-park home run.

13 Responses

  1. MK

    Odd stat, at Chattanooga more triples than doubles or home runs.

    Your report Doug seems to suggest not much more than a 5th outfielder unless the power shows up more.

    • Doug Gray

      We don’t have enough historical data to really know, but I’ll say this much – no one that I’ve seen has been able to hit for enough average with such a low exit velocity. That limits us to only like 10 years, so he could certainly be an outlier. I think the speed and bunting could help mitigate some of that, but I also just get some Billy Hamilton vibes in the “he simply can’t hit it hard enough” to provide enough offense. And while he’s a good runner and defender, he’s not Billy Hamilton in those regards.

      Baseball Savant just added the “Best 50” to their leaderboards – which is the average exit velo on the top 50% of a players batted balls. There were 343 big leaguers who had at least 150 plate appearances in 2023. The lowest “Best 50” was 94.0 MPH. Hurtubise was at 92.1 this year in his AAA/AFL time. The year before saw David Fletcher at 91.1 at the bottom of the list, and only Tony Kemp was also under 94.0 at 93.1. In 2021 there were four guys under the 94.0 mark – Alcides Escobar, Maneuris Sierra, David Fletcher (again), and Ronald Torreyes at the bottom of the list at 92.1. In 2020 it was just David Fletcher and Hanser Alberto below the 94.0 mark at 93.9 and 93.5. During 2019 there were eight players below the 94.0 mark. Ender Enciarte was the second lowest at 92.9. David Fletcher showed up again. At the very bottom of Billy Hamilton at 89.9.

      David Fletcher shows up on the list every year near or at the very bottom. He had some stretches where he hit. But over the last three years he’s also put up an OPS of .623 and gone from a full time player in 2021 to a guy who got 97 plate appearances in 2023 in the big leagues and spent much of the year in Triple-A (where he hit well).

      The margin for error is just so infinitely small when you can’t hit the ball hard.

  2. PTBNL

    Did I hear correctly that he went to Driveline or another workout site to improve his power last winter and it paid off? Maybe another winter like that will boost him even more???

  3. MBS

    Hurtubise should be attached to Friedl’s hip during batting practice this spring. I don’t know how much he bunts already, but getting better in that will only help him.

    It’s going to be real hard for him to hold onto a Reds roster spot. We really only have 1 spot up for grabs this year, and he’s got to beat out the AAAA guys, Dunn, Hinds, and maybe even Arroyo. It feels good to be so deep, that there only seems to be 1 spot up for grabs.

    • Optimist

      Hurtubise is slightly ahead of Hinds/Dunn simply because he has 2 seasons at and above AA, and excelled last season including a month in AAA. Say he’s 2 months ahead of them. He’s also the perfect callup 5th OFer/bench piece – speed/defense. They should all debut this season, but I expect Hurtubise is competing with Fairchild, while Dunn/Hinds may have higher expectations from the Reds.

    • DaveCT

      Hold onto or earn? Seems unlikely he’s win a job out of spring training. They’ll send him down to play every day rather than ride the bench as a 5th OF. Don’t think you mean holding onto a 40 man spot, either. However, it does behoove him to be ready if/when they move on from Barrero and Fairchild. There’s added competition from Capel, too.

      • MBS

        Hold onto a 26 man spot. What I’m talking about is once he gets his shot this year, and I think he will, can he hold on to it?

        That 40 man question isn’t out of line either. Right now we have 17 position players on the 40 man, obviously that leaves only 4 spots for AAA reserve players. Arroyo, and Dunn don’t have spots yet, and If Suter takes a position player spot we’d be down to only 3 AAA reserve spots. I think Suter will take Legumina’s spot, but either way our 40 man is going to get tight.

      • DaveCT

        I’d rather they let Martini go. Legumina has a 60 fastball and 60 slider, though with 45 control. He’s 27 but lost the 2020 year and only has three pro seasons.

      • Optimist

        They finally have some good tough choices to make – likely can’t keep both Legumina and Duarte, also likely 2 of 3 of Fairchild, Barrero or Hurtubise will have to be DFA’d/traded. These are all marginal MLB talents at least, rather than the AAAA types they’ve had in these spots the past few years.

        They may get lottery picks back in straight trades, but I suspect some of these will be add-ons in larger trades.

      • DaveCT

        Combined with the influx of elite talent.

        Wave one with Greene, Lodolo, EDLC, Marte, etc.

        Wave two with Cabrera, Duno, Lowder, the 2024 No. 2 pick, and the projected signing of Sanchez next week.

    • Doug Gray

      Hurtubise bunted 13 times and turned 7 of those into hits. Only three big leaguers had 5 or more bunt hits in 2023. Friedl led the big leagues with 17 of them. Daulton Varsho had 11. And then Andres Gimenez had 6. That’s it. Crazy to think about.

      • DaveCT

        Brett Butler, where have you gone?

        Actually, Reds 23 spring training …