Acquired not long before the 6 PM EST trade deadline, Victor Acosta came to the Reds from the San Diego Padres at the expense of breakout hitter, Brandon Drury. Acosta is an 18-year-old switch hitting shortstop who the Padres signed last year out of the Dominican Republic. He was ranked as the 6th best prospect in San Diego’s system after the trade of Juan Soto and the 13th best prospect before the season began. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 16th best prospect in the Reds’ system.
Signed as the 19th prospect in the international class, Victor Acosta signed with the Padres for $1.8 million. He’s a promising player, with many scouts saying that he has 5-tool potential. As he continues to grow — he’s only 18 — it’s possible Acosta will be moved off shortstop. He has struggled with throw accuracy, so some scouts are projecting him as a future second baseman.
MLB Pipeline has described Acosta saying, “The early returns were promising as the Dominican Republic native flashes five-tool potential and hit .285/.431/.484 over 56 games in his Dominican Summer League debut, though he was having less impact offensively during his United States debut in the Arizona Complex League when he was sent to the Reds in return for Brandon Drury at the Trade Deadline.” In their description of Acosta, MLB Pipeline also mentions “above-average speed” which resulted in him successfully stealing 26 bases in 56 games last year.
He’s a young player with enough talent for him to become a very valuable player. The Padres’ front office believed in him enough to sign him for $1.8 million.
His overall scouting grades are: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Arm: 50 | Run: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Results on the Field
Acosta is early in his professional career, but so far he is hitting .243/.346/.360 in the Arizona Complex League. He’s achieved a wOBA of .338 and a wRC+ of 99. These stats, while not bad, aren’t especially exciting, but we shouldn’t put too much stock in them yet. For starters, at 18 he has years to develop. Additionally, these stats were generated in the small sample size of 131 plate appearances which is simply too small to make any serious judgments.
When we dig into available data, there are encouraging signs. Acosta’s walk rate sits at an excellent 12.2% (CPX average is 10.6%). He also does a solid job of putting the ball in play, demonstrated by his low 22.9% strikeout rate (CPX average is 26.8%). The main weakness of his game (again, over a small sample size) has been a lack of power, demonstrated by an ISO of .117 (average is .140).
It can be argued that this lack of power is coming from the type of contact that Acosta is making. Compare Acosta to the average CPX player:
The 18-year-old prospect has simply not hit the ball in the air enough, resulting in a lack of extra base hits. There is reason to believe that he’ll improve in this area of his game. Last year, over a sample size of 240 plate appearances (still too small to make any serious judgments), Acosta’s line drive rate was much higher at 19.4%. This increase in line drives (and corresponding decrease in ground balls) led to much stronger production at .285/.431/.484 with a wOBA of .442 and a wRC+ of 153.
Another possible explanation for Acosta’s modest power could come from the where he is hitting. Power hitters tend to pull the ball when they make contact. Last season, Acosta’s pull% was a high 47.5%. This year, however, his pull% has dropped to 41% with a corresponding increase in his opposite field% by almost 10%. It is reasonable to hope that, over a larger sample size, Acosta will begin pulling the ball more and will see more power return.
We’ve only seem Victor Acosta perform over a small sample of games. He’s also only 18 years old. Whatever he turns into, the Reds made the right decision by trading Brandon Drury for him. Until this year, Drury has been a below average player. The chance that his 2022 season is a flash in the pan is not small. Even if he continued to perform at a high level, Drury would be contributing to a losing Reds team. Nick Krall was able to convert the potential short-term value that Drury might have provided into a high ceiling prospect that could provide value for several years.