Jose Acuna joined the Cincinnati Reds organization in the summer of 2022 at the trade deadline when the Reds traded Tyler Naquin to the New York Mets and Acuna was one of the players who came back in that deal. He would make seven appearances with Daytona before the season came to an end.
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When the 2023 season began the Reds sent the right-handed pitcher to join the High-A Dayton Dragons. Early in the season the Dragons had a piggy-back starter system and the first game for Jose Acuna in the year came in the final four innings against Lake County on April 8th. He gave up just one hit as he picked up the win for the Dragons that night. Eight days later he returned to the mound in another relief appearance and this time he threw the final 4.1 innings of the game, giving up two runs.
That would be his last true relief appearance of the year (he pitched in relief of a rehabbing Derek Law in the middle of the year for one game). From April 23rd through July 9th he pitched in 12 games and didn’t allow more than two earned runs in any of them. That left his ERA at 2.44 on the season.
He wouldn’t pitch for 11 days thanks to the timing of his last start and then the All-Star break. Things were a bit of a struggle when he returned to the mound. Wisconsin scored five runs against him in 3.1 innings. The next time out he gave up two runs in 6.0 innings. Things went back south against Beloit a little more than a week later when he allowed seven runs in 5.0 innings and gave up four homers. He settled in over the next month, giving up six earned runs in 17.0 innings (3.18 ERA). His final start of the year saw him give up six runs in 3.0 innings.
For all 2023 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Jose Acuna Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 6′ 2″ | Weight: 213 lbs | Acquired: Trade (Mets, 2022), International FA (2019)
Born: October 20, 2002
Fastball | It works in the low 90’s and will touch 95 every so often.
Slider | A pitch that works in the low 80’s and is a fringe-average offering.
Change Up | Another offering in the low 80’s. The change up is also a fringe-average offering.
The fastball velocity for Jose Acuna doesn’t really stand out in today’s game. But he does show a good ability to pound the strikezone with it. The pitch plays up a little better than the velocity suggests, but there’s going to be some questions around just how well it will continue to play at each level until he goes out and shows it.
In 2023 the slider and change up both showed some improvements. The slider saw a little bit of a bump up in velocity. It’s less that he’s throwing it harder at the top end, it’s that the lower end of velocity on the pitch came up a few MPH. His change up got a little bit better, and now gives him two fringy-average secondary offerings.
There’s nothing that really jumps out at you from Jose Acuna from a stuff perspective. It profiles as a back-of-the-rotation type if things go right for him. He found success in 2023 overall, but he struggled down the stretch as his innings piled up. To remain a starter he’s going to have to show that he can log more innings and keep the production going.
Interesting Stat on Jose Acuna
Struggled against the middle of the order. During 2023 the 3-4-5 hitters had a combined .283/.391/.512 line against him. The other six spots in the lineup hit a combined .178/.261/.312 against him.