The Cincinnati Reds played a game that many of the Reds players, and every last one of the Reds fans would like to forget about. The Washington Nationals blew them out of the water on Wednesday evening, scoring 16 runs between the 5th and 6th innings and putting the game well out of reach for not just the Reds, but probably the Cincinnati Bengals, too, even if they had to play the Nationals in a football game from that point forward (hat tip Matt Allaire for this gem). But there was something great that happened in the game for the Reds. Aristides Aquino homered. Again.

The Punisher hit an opposite field home run that just cleared the wall in the 7th inning. The homer went 387 feet and was 102 MPH off of the bat. That home run was another record breaker to start the career for Aristides Aquino. In just his 14th career game the right-handed slugger belted his 9th career home run. That’s the fastest that a player has ever homered nine times to begin their career. He also holds the record for fastest to hit eight.

Our buddy Joel Luckhaupt returned from his twitter hiatus to share some information on just how incredible Aristides Aquino’s start has been.

It’s just been a storybook start to the career for Aristides Aquino. This season he’s now played in 13 games and racked up 45 plate appearances. He’s slugging 1.023 in that span. His average? A meager .386. He’s also added three walks, giving him a .426 on-base percentage this season. Small sample size alert on everything, but my goodness this joyous and fun ride continues.

While Aristides Aquino wasn’t completely off of everyone’s prospect radar coming into the year, he was off of some. My personal rankings at RedsMinorLeagues.com had him rated as the 17th overall prospect in the organization. Baseball America also had him rated in their Top 25. But the crew over at Fangraphs left him completely out of their Top 31 Reds prospects entering the season. They also did the same when they updated their list just a month ago. It seems that they felt that they messed up, because earlier today they decided to give things a little bit of an update and moved him from entirely off of their list up to the #7 prospect in the organization.

They are still not entirely sold that he’s a future every day player, grading him out as a 45 FV (Future Value) player. Your average every day caliber starter is going to be a 50 grade player. You can read more about what they have to say at the link above, but it’s the final two sentences that are the most important from their writeup.

We think there’s a chance Aquino performs the way Franmil Reyes has since his debut, big power and lower OBPs from a corner outfield spot. There’s a chance that’s a 50 FV type player but Aquino’s track record of fringe contact and plate discipline tempers our expectations about him sustaining that level of production.

And they aren’t exactly incorrect. Including this evenings game, Aristides Aquino’s strikeout rate in Cincinnati this season is 25.5%. His walk rate is 6.4%. This season in Triple-A? 25.1% strikeout rate to go with a 7.1% walk rate. The year before in Double-A? A 25.2% strikeout rate to go with a 7.2% walk rate. The big difference this year, both in Triple-A and the Majors, is that his power has basically been somewhere along the lines of Mark McGwire circa 1998 (Triple-A) and some character in a video game since arriving in the Majors.

It seems that when writing these updates on Aristides Aquino and the start he’s out to I keep coming back to the old line of enjoy it. And that’s what we should be doing. He’s doing things that have literally never been done in the long, great history of this game. Of course it’s not going to last. Eventually he’s not going to hit nine home runs every two weeks. But he did just that over the last two weeks, and while I don’t speak for the rest of you, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it. Hopefully you have too.

20 Responses

  1. matthew hendley

    It has always been surprising that he has never been on the Prospect lists. How long will it last? Will he be able to continue to adapt to adapted pitching

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      Never on a Top 100, sure. But he’s been on the Reds Top 10 list a few times over the years – just not recently because he couldn’t figure out how to hit Double-A pitching…. then this year happened.

      Reply
      • Mason Red

        I wouldn’t exactly say being on the Reds top 10 list is a great thing or that it means the players on the list will become good players at the major league level. The Reds aren’t exactly known for developing players or recognizing talent. The Reds also keep players in the minors for financial reasons. I’m not saying that’s what happened with AA since he’s 25 but it’s beginning to look like they were late to recognize his talents which isn’t surprising given their history.

    • Chris

      Mason, I completely disagree. What do you mean the Red’s aren’t good at producing quality players? What do you base that on? Give some comparisons of those who are so much better. Cueto, Votto, Dunn, Larkin, Concepcion, Perez, Bench, Rose, Robinson. I could go on and on.

      Reply
  2. Roger Garrett

    Great stuff Doug and your right why not enjoy it.Reds fans haven’t had much to get excited about in well forever and to have a guy that is 25 years old doing what he is doing in the majors is well down right exciting.I am remember Kingman and even Frank Howard along with Killebrew and Big Klu but this guy has power like nobody I have ever seen.He doesn’t even have to barrell up a ball for it to go out but when he does it goes out and I mean right now.Obviously he won’t continue at this pace but fans should and will come to see him play and early to watch batting practice.

    Reply
  3. Pete

    I will not set any limitations on the possibilities. I can only hope that he will do the same.

    Reply
  4. Colt Holt

    Rookie aside, seems like he should be flirting with overall records with 8 homers in 8 games. I recall Sammy Sosa setting a record in the late 90s (maybe 98) with 20 homers in July, where he likely had a streak similar, but the number of times any player has hit 8 homers in 8 games has to be short.

    Reply
    • Doug Gray

      The record for most consecutive games with a home run is 8, by Ken Griffey Jr, Don Mattingly, and Dale Long. Griffey and Long both had 8 homers in their run. Mattingly, however, had 10.

      Reply
  5. RedFuture

    I’ve been impressed about many of the pitches that he did not swing. Since he made such huge strides this year, I’m going to say that most of the further improvement will take the form of still better plate discipline. I think he has a chance of improving the K% to 20% and the BB% to 10%.

    Reply
    • Bromleyjake

      I agree that he does lay off of some pitches out of the zone but what concerns me is that he also makes weak contact on a lot of pitches in the zone. I don’t know how that gets corrected. The power show has been fun though.
      In all honesty, if the guy bats .230 in a full season how many home runs would he need to hit in order to make up for that? 30? 35? It definitely looks like he has that type of power if he plays 140+ games a season.

      Reply
      • Eric Wormus

        The guy you seem to be describing is Hunter Renfroe with San Diego, although he has worked his BB rate up to 8%, but he is hitting .234/.296/.540, good for a 110 wRC+. That’s coming with 31 HRs and 17 2B. So if Aquino is a .230/.280 BA/OBP guy, he’d probably need to hit 45-50 HRs to make up for it.

  6. VaRedsFan

    Just before his call up you could have gotten his autographed rookie card (2014 Bowman Chrome) for $5-$10. Two weeks later and they are now going for $125+. I missed the train on that opportunity.

    Reply
    • Ghostrunner

      Have you seen the current prices for same card w/ “high” BGS grades? Off the charts – $400-1500.

      Reply
  7. Pete

    Bromley: AA has been instructed to be exactly the hitter we are seeing. Donnie Ecker wants Aquino to barrel the baseball at a high rate, he’s at 25%. They are not concerned with focusing on contact or hitting the ball to all fields, or even chasing the ball – as long as the desired production is achieved. He has been programmed to hit home runs. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him hit 30 HR’s this year although 20-25 is more realistic. This isn’t a fluke. You are likely to see a high rate of pop ups that will mitigate his exit velocity average – so what?

    Ecker’s philosophy regarding AA’s hitting approach is described in this short 2 – minute video. People can disagree with it but Aquino is doing exactly what the instructors have taught him.

    https://700wlw.iheart.com/featured/lance-mcalister/content/2019-08-06-reds-a-fascinating-listen-inside-swing-and-approach-of-aristides-aquino/

    Reply
    • Bromleyjake

      Thanks for the insight Pete. I certainly hope the guy’s production continues.

      Reply
  8. David

    Aquino is new to the ML. There will be a scouting reports developed on him, and pitchers will adjust how they pitch to him.
    Throw him fewer strikes, expand the zone, pitch down and away to avoid his power.

    He will have to learn to be disciplined and take the walks when given him (most of the time), or he will just be a mess. It’s all a game of adjustments.

    He is a talented athlete, and it has taken him a while to learn better plate discipline, pitch recognition and adjusting his hitting to the situation. He has matured a lot in the last year. You may have forgotten, but he was up with the Reds last September, and did about nothing.
    Player prospect minor league rankings and stuff are largely vaporware. The minors are full of guys that never reached their projected potential. I will wage that Taylor Trammell never amounts to very much. I had very high hopes for him (as did the Reds, obviously) two years ago. It happens in all of the baseball organizations. And then there are the guys that come out of nowhere and become stars, like Mike Piazza did; I think he was like a 28th round draft choice. Josh Van Meter was kind of a nobody in the minors a few years ago, and not on anybody’s top prospect list.

    Reply
    • Pete

      If we look at Aquino since his new hitting approach, he is the model of constancy:

      In AAA:
      April: 286/345/633, wRC+ = 137, no more than a 3-game stretch w/o a HR
      May: 352/386/500, wRC+ = 128, no more than a 2-game stretch w/o a HR (*)
      June: 300/376/744, wRC+ = 171, no more than a 3-game stretch w/o a HR(*)
      July: 277/327/614/128, wRC+ = 128, no more than a 2-game stretch w/o a HR

      (*) He had two stretches in excess of 3 games he started where he didn’t homer
      June 16-21 (5 games)
      May 21-28 (8 games), he was coming back from a 30-day layoff due to injury

      You all know what he has accomplished at the MLB level so I’m not going to recite it.

      I get a kick out of people that are trying to fix him, I don’t think anything is broken and I wouldn’t assume it’s going to be. The only evidence he may be in danger is if we go back prior to this season but he’s not the same hitter – his approach is totally different. Until he tanks, I wouldn’t assume he will because there is nothing to indicate it.

      Reply
  9. Matt WI

    Aquino’s change in stance/approach may end up going parallel to Jose Bautista (aka Joey Bats- one of my favorite nicknames!). The good news is that he’s made the change now. Bautista didn’t take off and become a world beater until around age 29.

    Reply
  10. David

    People like to point at Aquino’s K% as to why he will fail. Maybe. However, Aquino does not hit the ball on the ground (small sample alert). He has a 25% GB rate. Franmil Reyes has a 42% GB rate. Aquino has been Mike Trout level at putting the ball in the air. Yes, this is all small sample size, but Aquino’s batted ball profile has been amazing.

    Reply

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