August of 2019 is going to be very tough for Aristides Aquino to top in his career. Heck, it’s going to be tough for almost anyone to top for a single month of baseball. In 29 games during the month he hit .320/.391/.767 with 14 home runs. It was a rookie month to belittle all other rookie months. But the Cincinnati Reds outfielder slumped the following month, hitting just .196/.236/.382 in the 27 games that followed to end the season. In 2020 he played in 23 games, but only seven of them were complete games. In three of those games he didn’t register a plate appearance and in five others he had less than two at-bats. In a crowded outfield, playing time was tough to come by.
“It was pretty difficult last year,” said Aquino on Tuesday. “I came in so focused last year that I really wanted to do my very best out there, and I wanted to give it my best, but I kind of forgot how to have fun out there. So that’s kind of what happened to me last year. It kind of unraveled on me and I just kind of forgot to have fun. So this year I’m just trying to get better, getting back to where I was in the 2019 season and getting back to what I was doing.”
The soon to be 27-year-old spent the offseason tinkering with his swing with the hopes that he could be more consistent and that it will help him garner some more playing time at any of the three spots in the outfield.
“I tried to tinker with a couple of things in my swing,” said Aquino. “But I did work a lot, I’m trying to be more consistent as well. I’ve always said that if I’m able to play at any of those spots, then I’m more inclined to get a spot out there, so I’ve been working at all three (outfield) spots this offseason and in spring training.”
Despite the outfield being crowded, the competition isn’t necessarily against the other outfielders for Aquino. Instead he’s just trying to be the best player he can be, to compete against himself.
“There’s really good outfielders on this team, no one’s going to deny that,” Aquino said. “But I have to just compete against myself. I’m trying to prove out there to myself that I can do the best that I can. And I can only control so much of what’s going on, so I’m not trying to compete against anyone else it’s just towards myself.”
Defensively, Aristides Aquino only has four innings in the Major Leagues as a center fielder. Most of his time has come in right field, though he has played a little bit of left field, too. In the minor leagues almost all of his time has come in right field – 6260.1 of his 6304.1 innings have come as a right fielder. Only 43 innings have come in center field in his minor league career – but almost all of those came in 2019. Cincinnati would probably prefer Aquino to play in the corners rather than in center field, but they also seem to think he can cover you there in a pinch if asked given the limited, but recent action given to him at the position.
The Reds will have a rather important decision to make this spring with regards to Aristides Aquino. After having used options in 2017, 2018, and 2020, the Dominican Republic born outfielder can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers. While he has struggled some recently, there’s a team that would claim him out there and hope that more consistent playing time could get things going in the right direction. Essentially the decision will come down to: Have Aquino on the roster or lose him to another team – whether that’s through the waiver process or perhaps a trade. With a good spring, the decision can easily be made for them.
While National League teams are currently working around the idea that there’s not going to be a designated hitter in the 2021 season for them, it’s not written in stone. Until the regular season begins, that could be changed. If that were to happen, that would certainly favor both Aristides Aquino and the Cincinnati Reds, opening up more ways for manager David Bell to get the outfielders as a whole more playing time.