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Chattanooga Lookouts 2019 season in review

The Reds/Lookouts reunion did not get off to a good start.

After spending time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins after the 2008 season, the Chattanooga Lookouts were back in the Cincinnati farm in 2019. Despite a roster full of some of the best prospects in the system, things did not go very well in their first season back with the Redlegs. Actually, they played pretty well in the first half, going 36-33 but missing a spot in the playoffs by 2.5 games. The second half is where things went off the rails for the Lookouts. They finished 25-42 in the second half and had a stretch in the middle of July where they reeled off 15 straight losses. Whew. Anyway, let’s look at how some of the individual players did this season.

Top performers

Tyler “Bat Flippin’” Stephenson (.285/.372/.410; 26 XBH); Stuart “Little” Fairchild (.275/.380/.444; 12 doubles and 4 HR in 153 AB’s); Ibandel “Dinger” Isabel (.243/.307/.518; led team with 26 dingers); Mitch “Yay” Nay (.304/.366/.561; .927 OPS led team)

It seemed like most of the hitters struggled to hit for much power in Chattanooga this year, which is a little surprising after making a move from the extremely pitcher-friendly ballpark in Pensacola. Mitch Nay had by-far the best season at the plate, as he was the only Lookouts to post an OPS in the .900’s and earned himself a call to Louisville. Stuart Farchild coming up and hitting as well as he did was also nice to see.

Packy “Wacky” Naughton (3.66 ERA); Scott Moss (3.44 ERA); Tejay Antone (3.38 ERA); Joel Kuhnel (2.27 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)

All of these pitchers threw well enough to earn promotions at some degree. Naughton was the only one of this group who didn’t get called up to Louisville, but that’s because he started the year in Daytona, pitching well enough to earn a promotion to Chattanooga. The other three saw themselves pitching in Louisville and Kuhnel even got some time in Cincinnati.

How’d the prospects do?

I mentioned earlier that the Lookouts were the most prospect-laden team in the Reds’ system. While some of the prospects performed well, there were some disappointments. I wish I could start this off by writing about Taylor Trammell, but even he had a down year in his first stint in Double-A. Then he was traded to San Diego, adding sadness to our sadness. After throwing pretty well in a brief stint in Double-A in 2018, Tony “Santigold” Santillan had his first down year of his career. He put up a 4.84 ERA in 21 starts and saw an increase in walks and a decrease in strikeouts. He also dealt with injury issues for much of the second half, going on-and-off the IL a few times in July before finally being shut down for good on August 2. Packy Naughton, who was mentioned earlier, got the call up after a great start in Daytona and put up a 3.66 ERA in 105.2 innings at Chattanooga. Not bad at all.

Top catching prospect Tyler Stephenson had a solid year in AA, hitting .285/.372/.410 on the season. His .782 OPS was the second highest of his young career. Jonathan “Bollywood” India started the year and Daytona and earned himself a call-up in the middle of the season. He continued to hit the ball well, putting up a .270/.414/.378 line in 111 AB’s. Obviously there was a power drought once he got called up, but what really stands out is his plate discipline. He walked (22) nearly as many times as he struck out (26) once he got called up, so hopefully that continues as the power works itself out. Stuart Fairchild was another mid-season call-up who hit the ground running in AA, going .275/.380/.444 in 153 AB’s.

Other notables were: Alfredo Rodriguez, who I guess we can still consider a prospect, who actually hit much better this year, putting up a slash of .286/.325/.347; TJ Friedl, who hit .235/.347/.385 before having his season cut short due to ankle surgery; Jose Siri, who hit .251/.313/.388 and led the team with 21 SB; and Gavin LaValley, who hit .254/.339/.396 with 34 extra-base hits.

Obviously this is not how we expected things to go for a team with as many prospects as there were on this Lookouts team. I expect that the majority of those mentioned here will at least start in Double-A, so things should look better for them in 2020 before leading the Reds to a World Series title. Stay tuned as we look at the Single-A’s later this week.