The Cincinnati Reds minor league year is almost over. The regular season is over for every team except for the Billings Mustangs and only Billings and Pensacola have qualified for the playoffs. I figured with that being done, I’d look at a few standout types this week for the article.
Comeback Player of the Year
There are a a few players that could make for a good choice here. However, I’m going to give the nod to left handed pitcher Ismael Guillon. He missed all of the 2015 season with a torn latissimus muscle of his left side that occurred in spring training. The Reds sent him to Daytona to pitch with the Tortugas.
The left hander would spend the entire season with Daytona, splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation. The original plan, and the plan for the future, will be to use him as a reliever, but he made 13 spot starts over the course of the season. Guillon dominated in both roles, posted a 2.41 ERA on the season over the course of 93.1 innings pitched. In that span he had 116 strikeouts, allowed just 50 hits and walked 39 batters – good for a WHIP of 0.95.
Honorable mention: Angelo Gumbs, Ariel Hernandez
Breakout Player of the Year
Much like the above, there are a few players who could be a good choice here. I will be going with Jimmy Herget. The reliever was drafted in the 6th round in 2015 and had a good debut season in 2015 in Billings, but he really stepped up in 2016. The 22-year-old reliever posted a 1.78 ERA and racked up 24 saves for Daytona.
In his 60.2 innings pitched he allowed just 47 hits, had 22 walks and he struck out 83 batters. His stuff took a step forward as well, with the makings of a legitimate late innings reliever who could be fast tracked starting next season.
Honorable mention: Ariel Hernandez, Michael Beltre
Player of the Year
As it was with the others, there are a few players who could fill this spot well, but I’m going to make it a clean sweep for the Daytona Tortugas on this one. Aristides Aquino, who could have won either of the previous two awards mentioned, gets the nod here. After a breakout season in 2014, he spent over two months on the DL in 2015 with a broken bone in his arm and never really got his bat going.
All of that changed in 2016 with the Tortugas as he ran through the Florida State League, taking home the league MVP honors. The 22-year-old outfielder led the system in OPS (for players with at least 300 plate appearances) despite spending the entire year in the most pitcher friendly league in minor league baseball. Aquino hit .273/.327/.519 with 26 doubles, 12 triples and 23 home runs in Daytona. His .846 OPS was 170 points better than the Florida State League average OPS. He led the organization in home runs with 23 (Brandon Dixon was 2nd with 16) and also paced the way with 12 triples. Neither of those things were as impressive as what he did in the outfield though. The Punisher, which is the best nickname in baseball, had 28 outfield assists. That’s not a typo – he had TWENTY EIGHT outfield assists.
Honorable mention: Nick Senzel, Amir Garrett, Barrett Astin