Aristides Aquino has been on the fringes of the prospect radar of Reds fans for a few years now. I’ll count myself among the skeptical, largely because of his plate approach, which lead to a lot of strikeouts and not many walks.

This year, however, he’s been absolutely destroying pitchers in Louisville and that left me wondering if he had arrived. So I talked to Aquino and Louisville hitting coach Leon “Bull” Durham.

Before we get to that, a quick note: Yes, offense is up all over Triple-A with the switch the major league ball. However, Aquino is still pulling down a 150 wRC+, meaning he’s 50% better than the average Triple-A hitter.

“I just changed my stance a little bit. It’s made me more consistent,” Aquino says Turner Ward worked with him in spring training and that was the source of the change. Most notably (because, again, the Triple-A ball IS juiced compared to past seasons), his strikeout-rate is down six percent from two seasons ago.

Narciso Crook was there to serve as translator, but Aquino noted they’ve played together a long time, and I asked Crook what he saw. Crook said he can see that Aquino is making adjustments with every pitch now and keeping his overall approach simple.

Bull Durham is working with him for the first time, but noted what I’ve heard elsewhere, which is that his reputation was that he had trouble with breaking balls. “The young man has made some adjustments,” he said. “He’ll fall back to chasing balls in the dirt every now and again, but nobody’s perfect.”

“There’s still some little things he needs to learn in order to compete at the next level. He’s gonna get there. The young man has a future.” When I asked specifically about his potential, Durham said, “He’s gonna be an everyday guy. I have a good feel for talent. I can recognize it.” It was a strong statement of support, but what does it mean for the Reds.

Well, first, Aquino’s numbers really are meaningfully different. Especially the strikeouts. At 25, he’s not outside the prospect window in terms of age and he had massive power. The transition to the big leagues is always the hardest, but between the shifting numbers, his changed approach, and the observations of those who work with him, it seems he certainly should be on the radar. His ascent gives the Reds a potential starting outfielder which they may very well need come 2020.

16 Responses

  1. RP

    And he would be a FRACTION of the cost.

    • Lockersocks79

      RP I don’t care if he’s a fraction of the cost. If the Reds don’t go out and get great players with the money saved then what does this team gain in the long run? We can not spend another 5 years rebuilding. Keep the players that produce and build around then. Aquino might take a few years to really shine in the MLB anyways.

    • Lockersocks79

      @pete I’m for calling him up but not for him taking any large percentage of playing time away from Puig. Vladimir Guerrero jr crushed it in the minors but isn’t exactly doing the same in the majors. MLB history is littered with minor league all stars that underperform in the majors it took years to develop on the major league stage…let’s not downgrade a MLB position based on minor league stats.

  2. David

    I really have to ask people about this…..why would we keep Puig, at the cost of a long term contract?
    The Reds have a several good young PROSPECTS for the outfield at AAA. I want to see Aquino get a chance to play in Cincy to see what he has. Yes, he will struggle with the breaking ball for a while. It’s pitch recognition.

    What the Reds NEED is quality starting pitching. If you are going to pay out the yazoo, get a good starting pitcher. Promote the young (potential) outfielders. What the Reds DO NOT have is any more immediately promotable starting pitchers. There are guys in the system that are a couple of years out, but except for Keury Mella at AAA, who else is going to come up to join the rotation?

    I like Puig, He has power and hustles and I think has a good attitude. I am not anti-Puig. It just will cost a LOT of money to keep him, which is money that should be spent on pitching.

    • Indy Red Man

      It’s not emotional. He’s a good player. He fills a huge need and he hustles more then anyone the team! We need runs. No pitching will be able to shut people down at gabp

  3. Don

    Excellent Post Old School! I agree completely!

  4. wizeman

    move Senzel to second his natural position. try and resign Puig. Puig, Winker, Aquino, Ervin, Van Meter, Siri, Trammell.
    Blind monkey can find three out of that group.
    Gennett money off the books… along with Kemp money… isn’t that 14 million.
    Trade Iglesias for controllable arm…another 9. Roark 10.
    Extend Castillo and Desclafini.
    Decide about Jose Iglesias. And Alex Wood.
    Raises to Lorenzen and Garrett.
    That kind of money can get a free agent pitcher that everybody choked on until after the draft.
    Easy LOL

  5. RandyW

    The Reds are 2nd to last in NL in runs scored. They need to upgrade the offense, not bring everyone back.

    • wizeman

      And no position has underperformed as much as second base.
      203/288/383

      Moving Senzel to second alleviates that and I think we have the depth in the outfield to find our way.

      It’s the starting pitching that seems barren if you look down the road. At least in short term… especially if Santillian has bum shoulder.

  6. Don

    The rentals is why I bought a blank Jersey and senzel t-shirt when I went to games this year. Wanted to have name on shirt be someone who will be on team next year.

  7. Scott Gennett

    As for position players, perhaps excluding C and SS, they’re fully loaded both at ML and AAA level, so many options are available. As for starting pitching there’re no viable options after Castillo, Grey, Disco and Mahle, and that’s assuming great expectations out of them. I’d say at least a couple of studs are still needed for 2020 and beyond.

  8. SteveO

    Reds take a chance with Boxberger and Ciuffo on minor league contracts?

  9. Pete Snow

    Everybody keeps saying we are barren in the pipeline at catcher. Not true. Tyler Stephenson is a former early first round pick, and is hitting well in AA as a 22 year old. More importantly, he has soft hands and a plus arm. He is the Reds future catcher

  10. TR

    It seems to me that the Reds, in comparison to many ML teams, have few players who come up to the Bigs at the young age of 20-23. By the time they’re here it’s usually age 24-25 or more. My point is, with the Red’s good farm system instead of keeping them ‘forever’ in the minors, to include some of these highly rated prospects in trade(s) for a couple stud pitchers which is a better avenue to a winning team.