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.

11 Responses

  1. MK

    As a 20 year-old he was one of the younger pitchers in the league. I doubt many other pitchers that age pitched 100 innings. Not surprising he wore down later in the season. I always felt he was going to give the team an opportunity to win. Early on in the season he and Aguiar gave the team a strong 1-2 punch.

    • Pete

      I agree with your assessment. I’m pretty high this young fella is I like his make up. Maybe a longshot that he becomes a productive major leader but I will not be shocked if he does. He is still very young.

  2. Optimist

    So much about Acuna seems like he will plateau at AA as a just slightly below average starter. Then again . . .

  3. MBS

    Lets hope he turns a fringy pitch into an average pitch. That combined with his fastball could eventually get him a role in the pen.

  4. Mauired

    With the depth Reds are building and the fact he needs to be added to the 40 man next year, Acuna seems like the perfect prospect to include in a deal upgrading the roster this summer. I can’t ever see him cracking the rotation since he’s not even a top 10 starter in the organization. Maybe top 15. Looks like he’s a relief pitcher in Cincy or trade bait.

  5. Mauired

    Still have to give Krall a lot of credit for trading a banged up 4th outfielder (Naquin) for two prospects that should make the majors. Hector Rodriguez looks like a potential impact bat.

    • Greenfield Red

      Hector just keeps hitting. I get a Kirby Puckett vibe from him… without the off field issues hopefully.

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    Some time go, I was very hoped on Acuña but after I have consistently read he has no stuff , I have been gradually losing my enthusiasm

  7. DaveCT

    There were several times watching Dayton games last year where I found it hard to tell him apart stuff wise from Aguiar. I was surprised by the uptick in velocity and, while he doesn’t have Aguilar’s upside in velocity, at 20, I have to wonder if there’s more there. On the one never knows side of things, injuries, trades etc, there may be a 5th starter role for Acuna. Or as always, a bullpen place.

    • Greenfield Red

      I agree. There’s no telling how his development will. If there’s enogh fight in the dog, he will make it happen

    • Old Big Ed

      He looks like he could still get stronger in the legs, tighten his delivery up a bit, and maybe squeeze another 2-3 mph out of his fastball. He probably also needs to get a few more ground balls. He does get guys out, though.