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

21 Responses

  1. The Duke

    I find it rather hilarious that MLB Pipeline (Reds list compiled by Jonathan Mayo) has Aquino as the Reds #20 prospect, and that his arm is rated 60 and his defense 50. Above average arm and average defense doesn’t quite seem to jive with 28 outfield assists. The 50 power (league average) doesn’t exactly match 170 points above the league average OPS for the FSL either.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Shortly after midseason I was ready to move Aquino into the Reds Top 10. Depending on the prospect status of Reed/Stephenson by the end of the year, Aquino may be on the back end of top 5 for me. Really excited about him.

      • gaffer

        I think the long term future of Aquino is a common one for latin americans, can he take a walk? Hitting high A pitching is a mark of talent (check) and good mechanics (check) but what happens when they pitch him with sliders away consistently? What is the value of a .230/.280/.500 outfielder, probably minimal. Lets hope he can develop.

    • Doug Gray

      I think his arm is actually a 60. He does not have an arm that’s going to be confused with one of the best in baseball. He’s got a good arm, a right fielders arm, but I think this season has just been one of those perfect storm scenarios when it comes to the assists.

    • Patrick Jeter

      I’d theorize that arm strength and outfield assists are negatively correlated. The better your arm, the less runners will test you, thus reducing the overall amount of opportunities you have. But, that’s only true if your arm has a reputation. Maybe AA’s arm will now get that rep!

  2. Hotto4Votto

    I’d nominate Shed Long for break out player of the year consideration as well.

    • Doug Gray

      Yes, he should have been an honorable mention as well.

      I went back and added in the honorable mentions after I wrote the article in its entirety. He was one of the guys I considered, then just forgot to add his name in there after all was written.

  3. cfd3000

    I love “The Punisher” and 28 outfield assists is awesome. After Duvall threw out Flores twice yesterday they posted the NL assists list and The Punisher would have dominated it. But the best thing about this recognition Doug is that none of these guys are the studs we’re monitoring as near Reds ready. If there are more great arms, bats and defenders in the system further down that bodes so well for future Reds teams. Thanks again for another year of keeping us informed on the whole Reds system.

  4. 2xdiamond

    Not sure how you could leave Nick Routt off your break out list. According to Fangraphs he had the lowest ERA, WHIP & BAA of any Southern League pitcher with 40 or more innings pitched and was #2 or 3 in all of AA in those categories

    • Doug Gray

      Because he went to Triple-A and posted an ERA of 5.00 with more walks than strikeouts. Overall, his season was still outstanding – but his time in Triple-A keeps him off of things.

  5. WVRedlegs

    To beat out Nick Senzel for Player of the Year, just shows you how good of a season Aquino had this year. A future Yasiel Puig without all the drama.
    Another category you could possibly add would be Newcomer of the Year. New to the Reds system in 2016. Senzel, Friedl, and Trammell would probably rank there.
    Pensacola could be loaded for bear again next year with Senzel, Aquino, Shed Long, LaValley, and all those pitchers possibly moving up.

    • Doug Gray

      Had Senzel had more playing time, he easily takes player of the year, but he didn’t quite get 300 plate appearances, while Aquino racked up over 500. The full season just put Aquino over the top.

      Also, we need to note that the Reds and Pensacola have not extended their player development contract for the future, so the Reds may not be in Pensacola next year.

      • WVRedlegs

        Ah, I thought Senzel had more, but at 290 PA’s he just missed the cutoff.
        Very true about Pensacola, but they would be foolish not to extend their agreement another 2 years (at the very least) just as the Reds are becoming a top farm system.
        Now if the Cubs are wanting to move their AA team from Tennessee to Pensacola, then that might be a problem. However, if the Reds would then re-locate their AA team to Tennessee, it would be a lot closer to Redleg Nation and the Reds regional footprint. Kodak, TN has a nice stadium in the Smoky Mountains and is just a few miles from Gatlinburg, TN and Knoxville, TN.

  6. Tct

    Love your stuff Doug, and have followed you long enough to trust your judgment for the most part. But as an internet friend, I gotta tell you something, man. Your obsession with the “Little Mermaid” Ariel Hernandez is getting a little weird. He is a 24 year old reliever in A ball who walks 6 guys per 9. Guys like Bob Steve and Tony Cingrani didnt even walk guys in A ball. And they were starters who were younger. Heck, Carlos Marmol probably didnt even walk guys like that in A ball.

    If the little mermaid is one of the top 25 prospects in this organization, then the farm isn’t nearly as deep or strong as you claim. Seems insane to put him ahead of Shed Long

    • Doug Gray

      Hernandez needs to continue lowering his walks – but let’s talk about it for a second. He’s mentioned in the comeback player of the year because, well, he’s actually been terrible for his entire career. He cut nearly 4 walks per 9 innings off of his career rate this year. He posted an ERA of 2.18 between Low and Advanced-A. He’d never even pitched in Low-A before, and his ERA coming into the year was 7.20 since coming to the United States in 2011. That’s a heck of a comeback.

      In terms of breakouts – yeah, he needs the walks to be lowered. No question about it. Ask around the organization about the best pure arms in the system. You’re going to get three answers: Robert Stephenson, Tony Santillan and Ariel Hernandez. I’d doubt it if anyone else gave a different answer. He literally came out of nowhere, costing the Reds all of $12,500 to acquire last winter. He’s definitely a breakout guy.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    Doug, your observation, “there are a few players who could be a good choice”, is very valid, just like every selection you identified for the three categories you selected. The fact that there are multiple valid options for all three categories you listed makes the future look rosie.

    I’m really anxious to see how the minor league assignments shake out to start the 2017 season. We are beginning to see a log jam at multiple positions and this time, the log jam is not created by career minor league players blocking prospects.

  8. MK

    Have to think Aquino a great candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, as he was great in Billings, very average to poor in Dayton, which included a hand injury, and then great at Daytona.