The Cincinnati Reds signed Aristides Aquino in January 18th, 2011 out of the Dominican Republic as a a 16-year-old. He wasn’t a high profile signing, though the Reds were impressed with his tools and signed him for $115,000.

He spent the first two seasons of his career, at ages 17 and 18, playing in the Dominican Summer League and the results weren’t good. He hit .188 and .197 in those first two seasons. Despite the struggles, the Reds showed faith in the tools and brought him stateside as a 19-year-old.

The faith paid off as Aquino responded well, hitting .278/.325/.479 for the Arizona League Reds, though he struggled with his plate discipline somewhat, walking just 10 times with 40 strikeouts. The next season he took another step forward, hitting .292/.342/.577 for the Billings Mustangs. His power jumped forward in a big way, but his plate discipline was still a bit of an issue, walking just 15 times and striking out 66 times.

After a slow start in Dayton during the 2015 season, the outfielder was hit by a pitch and broke a bone in his arm down near his wrist. He missed over two months before beginning a two week rehab assignment. When he returned to the Dragons in the middle of July he never really got going and finished the season with a .234/.281/.364 line to go with 11 walks and 53 strikeouts.

Despite the struggles in Dayton, Cincinnati pushed him up to Daytona for the start of the 2016 season. The season got out to a rough start for Aquino – he went 11-70 (.157) with five walks and 19 strikeouts in the first 18 games.

In the 55 games since then he’s put together a heck of a run. From April 27th through yesterday he has hit .329/.382/.571 with 11 doubles, six triples and 10 home runs. The outfielder has walked 17 times with 48 strikeouts as he’s begun to show a better approach at the plate. The Florida Sate League currently has a league OPS of .671. That puts Aquino’s .834 mark a full 163 points higher than the average hitter in the league.

Since coming to the United States, the best strikeout-to-walk ratio he’s had at any level is 4-to-1 and it came in the Arizona League. As things sit right now he’s got a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3-to-1, which is a massive improvement. Combine that with a strong set of tools to work with across the board, and his production and the Reds may find themselves with a quick rising prospect by the end of the season that is pushing for Top 100 status if he continues with what he’s done over the last six weeks.

8 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    Maybe I’m just looking for any good news related to the Reds right now Doug but thanks for this update. This is the kind of steady progression you always want to see. It’s nice when the high draft picks perform well, but somehow even nicer when the less hyped players show real improvement and promise. Keep us posted please.

  2. The Duke

    He’s also been racking up outfield assists in RF. Big time arm. The best all around set of tools in the system. The only one I could see with a legit argument of having as good a tool set (albeit it’s sill very early) may be Taylor Trammell.

  3. seat101

    Doug, can you describe for me what a hitting coach can do to help a young player improve his plate discipline? I understand pitch recognition is vital, but what is there on the mental aspect. How do the coaches get past the ‘no one walks off the island’ mentality?

    • Doug Gray

      I actually had a nice conversation about this exact topic with a scout in Dayton on Friday night. Obviously, pitch recognition ability is the first thing. If you can’t recognize the pitch fast enough, nothing else matters. Bat speed comes into play too, because the quicker the bat, the more time you want wait to react.

      Mentally though, it starts with the understanding that just because you can make contact on everything (even though you really can’t) doesn’t mean you should. This isn’t always the easiest habit to break.

      What I do wonder, is now that we’ve got the trackman system everywhere, if we can’t just take these guys the charts that show “you are hitting .375 when you swing at stuff in the zone – you are hitting .200 when you swing at stuff out of the zone” and it will help. I’ve always talked about the difference between Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips being that Joey never swings at stuff outside of the zone, while Phillips swings at everything outside of the zone. Phillips actually hits better than Votto does in the zone (or, well, has in the past). The problem is that he also hits so much crap that it drags everything down so far.

      The mental approach is very important here. But the physical stuff comes into play just as much. How long is your bat in the zone? How fast does your bat get to the zone?

  4. Patrick Jeter

    Wow. I didn’t realize he was dominating so much relative to league average. That pegs his wRC+ at 147. That’s extremely good.

  5. WVRedlegs

    Aquino has 83 hits so far in 74 games. He has 52 singles and 31 extra base hits, 14 doubles, 7 triples and 10 HRs. Good for a .201 ISO. Got to love those XBHs.

  6. Shchi Cossack

    Aquino’s injurig last season and struggles while returning from the injury kinda removed him from the radar. His early struggles this season almost made him the forgotten man from a casual fan’s perspective.

    Aquino has simply made a strong, dominating statement since his early struggles as a 22-year-old playing A+ ball. He will need to continue that performance and hopefully continue with his improved plate discipline. I believe the Reds will need to add him to the 40-man roster next season or risk losing him, so he probably needs to start working in AA soon. The 40-man roster could get very crowded next season.

  7. Pooter

    I got to see him play on the Mustangs! I hastily compared him to Vlad Guerrero. I hope I am right. Glad to hear he’s doing well!