If you posed the question of “who is on the 40-man roster today that won’t be in November?” at the end of June, outfielder Aristides Aquino had to be in the conversation – and probably near the top of the list. In the 65 games between the start of the year and the end of June, Aquino was hitting .241/.294/.430. That came along with 15 walks and 70 strikeouts in 246 plate appearances. That’s a 28.5% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. Both are on the wrong side of where you want to be. Especially when you are a 24-year-old corner outfielder that is repeating Double-A. The power, however, was strong. His isolated power (SLG-AVG) was a well above-average .189 thanks to 14 doubles, a triple, and nine home runs.
Things began to change when the calendar flipped to July – though it wasn’t instantaneous. In the first 10 games of July Aristides Aquino didn’t draw a walk and he struck out nine times in 34 plate appearances. But, starting on July 11th, things began to really change.
There have been 30 games played since that day (not including the game on Tuesday night – as this article was written on Tuesday afternoon). In that span he’s had 125 total plate appearances. It’s come with 17 walks and just 22 strikeouts. That’s Jesse Winker-esque plate discipline numbers. Small sample size, for sure, but it’s also a big step forward for the outfielder and something he’s never shown before in his career.
His batting average in that span is just .245 – thanks to a .234 batting average on balls in play. That should correct itself as time goes by. But thanks to the walk rate increasing to 13.6%, and his strikeout rate dropping to 17.6%, his on-base percentage sits at .352 in that span. And the power has also increased, dramatically. He’s slugged .528 in that span with four doubles, a triple, and eight home runs.
Perhaps it’s not enough to save his spot on the 40-man roster depending on exactly how the offseason shapes up. But what’s been going on over the last month, month-and-a-half is showing a very different player than what’s ever shown up before for Aristides Aquino. The power’s almost always been there. But the ability to control the strikezone hasn’t. If the Reds believe this is a true change in skillset, then it’s very possible that it’s something that will keep the right fielder around.