After the 2016 season Aristides Aquino took home the Chief Bender Award as the Cincinnati Reds Minor League Player of the Year. That season, in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, Aquino hit .273/.327/.519 with 26 doubles, 12 triples, and 23 home runs. The power output was very impressive given the league – which is notorious for sapping the power of nearly everyone.

The next two seasons, though, both in Double-A, were a struggle. The power certainly played for Aristides Aquino. He hit 40 doubles, 8 triples, and 37 home runs over the two seasons with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. But he also hit just .227 and posted a .293 on-base percentage in his time through the Southern League.

At the end of November the Cincinnati Reds non-tendered Aquino a contract, removing him from the 40-man roster and making him a free agent. The outfielder almost immediately re-signed with the organization on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Following spring training the Reds sent Aristides Aquino to join the Triple-A Louisville Bats. With the struggles he’s had in Double-A the promotion may have suggested he would have some struggles at a higher level of competition. WRONG. At least so far it’s proving to be wrong. The 25-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic has been tearing the cover off of the baseball.

On Thursday night he would rack up three hits, including his fourth home run of the season. He’s played in a total of 12 games this season. To go along with his four home runs he’s also added five doubles. That’s given him a line of .298/.346/.660. It’s early in 2019, but when you go two weeks and are slugging .660, it’s going to catch some eyes. It’s going to turn some heads. And right now, Aristides Aquino is turning the heads of outfielders as they watch the ball go over them and into the seats.

 

Tyler Stephenson has stopped striking out

Cincinnati Reds catching prospect Tyler Stephenson is coming off of what is arguably the best offensive season of his career. The Florida State League, which as noted above is very pitcher friendly, probably is hiding his steps forward a bit. He hit .250/.338/.392 for the Daytona Tortugas last season. He struck out 21.8% of the time he came to the plate. The year before he had struck out 16.7% of the time. Both of those rates are fine – and in fact, the 16.7% rate is above-average.

This season the catcher from Georgia moved up to Double-A. With the Chattanooga Lookouts he’s come to the plate a total of 37 times. That’s not a lot, so small sample size alert here, but it’s also not nothing. Tyler Stephenson has struck out a grand total of three times in that stretch. That’s a strikeout rate of 8.1% this season. He’s also walked three times this season. It’s unlikely that he’ll maintain such a high rate of contact – that’s an absolutely elite rate of contact, even for the Double-A level.

But if we are going to see an improved rate of contact for Tyler Stephenson, things could get real interesting rather quickly. Stephenson has some real pop in his bat, and while it’s still developing into game power, if you mix that in with a bunch of contact, you are looking at one intriguing prospect at the plate.

11 Responses

  1. Alex

    Do we know if Aquino has been making ajustments to improve his game? Or is it more or just a hot streak for him

  2. The Duke

    26% K rate. You can live with that considering Aquino’s power, but it’d be nice if he could get that just a tick lower and walk a couple more times. Looking at the HR clips, i’m not sure why anyone would pitch him anywhere other than the outside of the plate. Aquino is looking to pull the ball, i’d force him to go the other way and given his history try to get him to chase pitches just off the plate.

  3. AirborneJayJay

    Stuart Turner back with the Reds on a minor league deal and will go to Louisville. Hope he can get some new bats from the Slugger factory there. He needs one.

  4. William

    I remember in one of the Spring training games the reds announcer (don’t remember who), said that the new hitting coach had help Aquino make some adjustments to his swing (don’t remember what). Not a ton of help, but I do recall learning that some adjustments had been made in Spring Training.

  5. MikeD

    Aquino’s swing looks a little more compact than I recall?

    Hard not to have high hopes for Tyler Stephenson, seems like a great kid and has shown above average talent at times. As often said, catchers are the slowest to develop on both sides of the dish. The Reds don’t have a need to rush him, so maybe given a couple healthy seasons he will be what they envisioned when they drafted him.

  6. MK

    Off track but if Bob/Steve and Amir continue to be effective through June would it be prudent to shop R. Iglesias and allow the young guys close. Bob with the fastball and slider might have perfect stuff for that role.

    • MikeD

      MK. I hope Iglesias gets it back on track and becomes a trade chip. If the Reds don’t look like the can realistically make a run at a wildcard spot, they need to make moves such as what you suggest. I am okay with them taking a shot early, but if they wait tool long, they will blow good opportunities. The Braves are now badly in need of bullpen help and the Reds would do well to pounce.