Dayton, Ohio-Dayton Dragons 2017 outfielder Jose Siri has been selected as the Cincinnati Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year. The Reds announced their Minor League player awards over the weekend, honoring four players for their achievements.
Relief pitcher Aaron Fossas, who also spent the entire 2017 season with the Dragons, was among the award winners as well. Fossas was given the Reds Minor League Community Service Award for his efforts this season as a volunteer as part of various Dragons community service endeavors.
The Reds named former Dragons third baseman Nick Senzel as the winner of the Sheldon "Chief" Bender Minor League Player of the Year award, the top honor given to a Reds prospect. Senzel split the 2017 season between Advanced-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola after playing for the Dragons in 2016. Starting pitcher Tyler Mahle earned the Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. Mahle split the 2017 season between Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville before making four starts for the Reds to conclude the season. Mahle was the Dragons top pitcher in 2015.
Siri led the Reds farm system in home runs (24) and stolen bases (46) with the Dragons in 2017. He finished second to Senzel in batting average among full-season players (.293) and ranked third in the Reds system in runs batted in (76). Siri led the Midwest League in six major categories (runs, hits, extra base hits, total bases, slugging percentage, and stolen bases). He finished tied for first in the league in triples, second in home runs, fourth in RBI, and fifth in batting average. He also broke a 40-year-old league record by producing a 39-game hitting streak. Siri was named as a Midwest League Full-Season All-Star and was selected as the league's Player of the Month for July. He was named by Baseball America as the Midwest League's "Best Defensive Outfielder" and "Fastest Baserunner." Siri was also featured prominently on Baseball America's list of best tools in the Reds farm system, named as the organization's "Best Power Hitter," "Fastest Baserunner," "Best Athlete," and "Best Outfield Arm."
Siri's selection marked the second straight year that a Dragons player was named Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year. Shed Long earned the same honor in 2016 after spending most of the season with the Dragons.
Fossas became the sixth Dragons player to win the Reds Minor League Community Service Award since 2011. The award is given to only one player each year across all levels of the Reds farm system. Previous Dragons winners of the Reds Community Service Award were Drew Hayes (2011), El'Hajj Muhammad (2012), Brent Peterson (2013), Jon Matthews (2014), and Avain Rachal (2015).
In each of the last eight years, a Dragons player from that season has earned at least one of the Reds three Minor League on-field awards. In addition to Siri and Long, the list also includes Mahle (Player of the Year in 2015), Nick Travieso (Pitcher of the Year in 2014), Seth Mejias-Brean (Player of the Year in 2013), Jesse Winker (Hitter of the Year in 2013), Steve Selsky (Hitter of the Year in 2012), Billy Hamilton (Player of the Year in 2011), Josh Smith (Pitcher of the Year in 2011), and Donnie Joseph (Pitcher of the Year in 2010).
The Reds Minor League Player of the Year award is named after Sheldon "Chief" Bender, who worked in professional baseball for 64 years, 39 of those with the Reds. Bender oversaw the Reds farm system from 1967-'88, producing stars such as Ken Griffey Sr., Dave Concepcion, Ron Oester, Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Paul O'Neill, and countless others. Bender passed away in 2008 at the age of 88.
Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award winners:
2000 Austin Kearns*
2001 Adam Dunn
2002 Brandon Larson
2003 Stephen Smitherman
2004 Richie Gardner
2005 Chris Denorfia
2006 Homer Bailey
2007 Jay Bruce
2008 Chris Valaika
2009 Chris Heisey
2010 Devin Mesoraco
2011 Billy Hamilton*
2012 Billy Hamilton
2013 Seth Mejias-Brean*
2014 Ben Lively
2015 Tyler Mahle*
2016 Aristides Aquino
2017 Nick Senzel
*Player played for the Dragons in the year he won the award.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.