The Cincinnati Reds have historically handed out their minor league player awards at Redsfest, but that was impossible this past year. With the new collective bargaining agreement in place, teams have a “no contact” period with minor leagues from around the middle of November through the end of December. That meant that for the first time in forever, the Reds could not ask minor league players to attend Redsfest and left them without the ability to give the players their awards. Cincinnati instead used the Reds on Radio Affiliate Luncheon to announce their 2023 awards winners. The Reds recipients matched the same three players that I chose back in October for each spot.

Blake Dunn – Minor League Player of the Year

There haven’t been many minor league seasons like the one that Blake Dunn had in 2023. The outfielder would split his season between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga, getting better after reaching Double-A. Between the two stops he played in 124 games and hit .312/.425/.522. That line on it’s own is quite impressive, but that’s not what grabbed the headlines once his season was completed. Dunn hit 23 home runs and he stole 54 bases. Only one other minor leaguer from within the Reds organization dating back to 1960 when we have full minor league data has had a 20 homer, 50 steal season – Gary Redus also did it back in 1982 with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Blake Dunn led the farm system in home runs, hits, runs, steals, the number of times he was hit by a pitch, and total bases. He also finished second in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. He was third in runs batted in and fifth in walks.

Jacob Hurtubise – Minor League Hitter of the Year

It was a breakout year for Jacob Hurtubise. The outfielder had never homered in his life prior to the final game of the 2022 season. Then in 2023 he came out and hit seven homers in his time between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. The step up in power was a big surprise, but it wasn’t the only area he took a step forward in. Hurtubise hit .330, had a .479 on-base percentage, and he slugged .483 thanks to adding in 10 triples and 11 doubles to go with those homers. Known for his plus speed in the past, it was still there and it helped him steal 45 bases in 54 tries during the regular season. He also walked more than he struck out, taking 77 free passes and striking out just 63 times in his 455 plate appearances during the year. His average was the tops in the farm system among players with at least 350 plate appearances. So was his on-base percentage and OPS. Hurtubise finished second in steals, triples, runs, and third in walks.

Julian Aguiar – Minor League Pitcher of the Year

Like Blake Dunn, Julian Aguiar began his season in High-A Dayton and then moved up to Double-A Chattanooga. Between the two stops he would post a 2.95 ERA in 25 starts and throw 125.0 innings. He gave up just 101 hits – and only eight homers – while walking 37 batters and striking out 138 of the 515 hitters he faced. Aguiar led the farm system in ERA and innings pitched. His strikeout-to-walk ratio led the farm system among pitchers who threw at least 80 innings on the year.

14 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    Not much to add to any of the above. Can’t wait to see how these kids do and what 2024 has in Stock (pun intended) for them.

    • Greenfield Red

      The Reds system had a winning year in 23, although not by much. Should be much more so in 24.

      • DaveCT

        Just read the BA updated Top 30 prospects, and it’s so deep that I’m almost drooling. Always an interesting comparison to Doug’s Top 25, with lots of tidbits you don’t see elsewhere.

      • Greenfield Red

        Adding a 65 or 70 hit tool this June will make it deeper. It should be a fun year, and I have trouble understanding those who don’t see what’s happening here.

  2. MK

    With 125 innings it seems Aguiar could become a candidate to be a real innings eater. In the near past we have had few pitching prospects on pace to pitch 150 innings at AA. Could become a Cueto/Castillo type.

    • DaveCT

      Getting Aguiar in the 12th round was a pretty good job of scouting.

      • Old Big Ed

        Yes, and there are several other examples of the Reds drafting prospects in the later rounds. Ethan Daniel in the 6th round is a good example. Daniel in 2022 had an OPS in the Big Ten of 1.029. He followed that up in 2023 at with a 1.034 at Virginia and 1.067 at low-A Daytona. At each place, he had 20% or less SO%. They also used the 14th round and $395k to convince Kyle Henley from the Atlanta area to forego Georgia Tech.

        In 2022, they got Zach Maxwell in the 6th round, Brody Jessee in the 10th and Adam Serwinowski in the 15th.

        2021 was Aguiar’s year, but they also drafted Blake Dunn in the 15th round that year and catcher Mike Trautwein in the 13th.

  3. Melvin

    Looks like Fairchild and Barrero, whichever one makes it, if they make, better play well. ;) Others aren’t that far away.

    • BK

      I couldn’t agree more. Hinds also has a chance to press for a big-league job, given the adjustments he made last year at AA. Competition usually brings out the best in athletes and the Reds are in a position to have legit competition on the 26-man roster and from Louisville, too.

  4. The Duke

    Pretty decent chance the Lookouts have a rotation featuring Lowder, Petty, and Aguiar to start the year. Could be formidable.

    • BK

      Agree, Jose Acuna will likely start at AA, too. Should be quite the rotation.

    • DaveCT

      Thomas Farr has an interesting arm. I don’t see him as too different from Christian Roa (who I have reliever risk stamped all over).

  5. MBS

    This trio of players played well above their 2023 preseason prospect status.