The 2019 season has been one of dreams for Josh VanMeter. However, the grass has not always been this green for the Reds’ 4th ranked prospect on Rudie Verougstraete’s (@Seeing_Reds) midseason Reds Top 50 Prospects list.
“I said that when I got to Cincinnati, I had really earned the opportunity up there,” VanMeter said. “I wasn’t really ever given anything in this game and I feel like I had to earn every step of the way. That is just the most satisfying and gratifying thing ever, is just when you truly earn something. For me, I really felt that. I still don’t have many words for it. It is just a speechless moment. You work your whole life for it, you face some adversity. To be able to get through it is the most satisfying thing in the world.”
The tale for VanMeter started when he was selected in the fifth round in the 2013 MLB Draft. While the fifth round is quite an achievement, Baseball America recent posted a research story that included the fact that only around 30 percent of all players ever drafted in the fifth round ever play a game in the majors. Check that one off the list for VanMeter.
It was as recent as 2015 that VanMeter was sitting on the operating table having pins placed in his fractured left fibula that he suffered while turning a double play. He missed nearly that entire campaign, playing only 28 games that season.
After recovering completely, VanMeter started the season with High-A Lake Elsinore, where he really took off. He smacked 12 home runs and batted .267 in 95 games. He then earned a promotion to Double-A San Antonio for a late season cameo of 29 more games.
Enter stage left, another hurdle. After this season, VanMeter was shipped to the Reds in exchange for Luis Torrens on December 8. In getting to know a new wave of teammates, VanMeter overcame another obstacle and hit a respectable .255 with a .678 OPS. In 2018, he returned to Double-A Pensacola before earning another promotion to Triple-A Louisville. In that time, he hit upped his OPS to .791 between the two levels. However, this was still not enough to earn VanMeter an invite to the Reds big league Spring camp. All of this just made May 4 that much sweeter for him.
While the team was playing in VanMeter’s home state of Indiana (Indianapolis), VanMeter was pulled away by manager Jody Davis. This was the greatest meeting possible for a Minor League ballplayer and he was advised that he was going up to Cincinnati. One issue, VanMeter was not able to reach his parents to spread the great news.
“I couldn’t get ahold of my parents right away,” VanMeter said. “I was kind of struggling what to do, so I called my sister and she ran over to their house, woke them up, and told them the story. It was just funny, because normally my dad will stay up every night and text me after the game. For some reason, he went to bed that night. I guess it was because I didn’t have any hits that night, so he didn’t want to stay up and talk. It was pretty cool, obviously a dream come true. Something that, not only I worked for my whole life, but my parents obviously played a vital role in that. It was just a really exciting and emotional time.”
When it comes to his highlight of his big league career so far, that was easy for VanMeter. He grew up watching and rooting on the Cubs with his father and his grandfather. The family would take trips to Wrigley Field each summer to enjoy a game. On May 24, 2019, VanMeter returned to the Friendly Confines, but this time with a jersey and a number.
“Even when I stepped out on the field for BP, it was so surreal,” VanMeter said. “It literally was a dream come true. For my dad to see it, for my grandpa to see it, it was just an amazing moment and something that I will never forget.”
While VanMeter said that his father and grandfather have to say the Reds are their team nowadays, he said that deep down he thinks they still back the Cubs. Regardless, against so many odds and obstacles, VanMeter did not let any stop him and he achieved his boyhood dreams.
Editor note: As of publishing date on July 19, 2019, VanMeter had just been recalled to the major leagues from Triple-A Louisville
Ryan Palencer is a lifelong baseball fan who covers the Triple-A International League upper level MiLB prospects. He is located in Indianapolis, which features the AAA Indians. Ryan has covered Minor League, Major League, and All-Star games with Pirates Prospects prior to joining Prospects1500. Follow him on Twitter @RyanPalencer.