To say that Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino is turning heads in his first handful of days in the Major Leagues in the 2019 season would be an understatement. After Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs he’s hitting .429/.455/.905 with a double and three home runs in 21 at-bats. He’s also shown off a rather big time arm in right field, too.

It’s not just that he’s had a good start. It’s how impressive some of the feats within that good start have been. His first home run was more impressive because of when it happened and who it came off of. Aquino, better known as The Punisher in some parts, hit a game tying 3-run home run off of Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel on August 3rd. It was the first homer of his career and went 404 feet. But it was the home run he hit three days later that got the people talking.

Tuesday night the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic took a 1-1 92 MPH fastball from Jose Suarez and almost hit it through the batters eye in center field. Trackman measured it at an impressive 448 feet. It was a no-doubter off of the bat and almost caused Thom Brennaman to have an aneurysm on the call for Fox Sports Ohio as he screamed “They all him The Punisher!”

Both of those were just a tease for what was in store. Friday night saw Aristides Aquino hit another absolute monster of a home run for the Cincinnati Reds. The ball went an estimated 445 feet by Trackman. And it came off of the bat at 118.3 MPH. That’s the hardest home run hit in all of Major League Baseball in 2019. It, too, almost caused Thom Brennaman to have an aneurysm on the air.

As I noted on twitter during the game, that was easily the hardest hit baseball by a Cincinnati Reds player since Statcast came into existence back in 2015. The previous record was held by Michael Lorenzen of all players at 116.5 MPH. No other Red had topped 114.9 MPH (Jesse Winker in April of 2018).

Power is something that has been a staple of the game for Aristides Aquino for a long time. It was something he was known for even at times when he was not showing it in games. As a 17 and 18-year-old he played in 125 games in the Dominican Summer League and hit just six total home runs. He also hit under .200 in both seasons. And in both seasons he slugged under .300. But the Reds knew that he had thunder in his bat despite that. They were confident he could develop, and he rewarded that confidence the next year as he slugged .479 with 25 extra-base hits in just 46 games for the Arizona League Reds.

The next year is when he really broke out for the first time. That was the 2014 season where Aquino would hit .292/.342/.577 with 23 doubles, 5 triples, and 16 home runs in 71 games for the Billings Mustangs. The next year he battled injuries and only played about half of a season in Dayton, with a short rehab stint coming back from injury with Billings.

Healthy again, Aristides Aquino laid waste to the pitcher friendly Florida State League in 2016. He hit .273/.327/.519 with 26 doubles, 12 triples, and 23 home runs. That earned him the leagues most valuable player award. But that success didn’t carry forward into Double-A. When he made contact he did damage. The power still played as he hit 40 doubles, 8 triples, and 37 home runs in his two seasons playing for Pensacola. But his on-base percentage was under .300 in his 245 games for the Blue Wahoos.

And then he headed out to Goodyear for spring training in 2019 and reworked his swing. Those changes seemed to work miracles for the outfielder who then went to Triple-A this season and hit .299/.356/.636 with 13 doubles, a triple, and 28 home runs in just 78 games played. While it seems that everyone is hitting for more power in Triple-A this season, and they are, very few were doing it like Aristides Aquino was.

It wasn’t just the pure number of home runs, which was impressive on it’s own. But it was just how far they were going. The average distance for his home runs for Louisville this season was 412 feet. 16 of his home runs went more than 405 feet. Eight of them have gone 425+ feet this season. Four of them have gone at least 449 feet. The top one comes in at an absurd 471-feet.

If you’ve been following the journey you’ve long heard about the power. You may have seen it at times, too. But in 2019 Aristides Aquino is taking it to a different level. It started in Goodyear in the spring. Then it carried forward to Louisville when the season began. And now he’s sharing it with the entire world at the highest level on this planet.

It’s not just the power in the bat, though. There’s power in his right arm, too. Going back through his time in the minors, he led the Arizona Rookie League in outfield assists in 2013. And he led the Pioneer League in outfield assists in 2014. In the 2016 season he recorded a truly laughable 28 assists – once again leading his league in the metric. This past season he had already thrown out eight runners on the bases in just 69 games for Louisville.

While he had gotten a chance to unleash a few throws in his limited time with Cincinnati, it was once again last night that he made a true head-turner. Aquino made a thrown to second base on an Anthony Rizzo single early in the game. That throw registered at 101.5 MPH. That’s the top velocity on a throw by an outfielder in Major League Baseball this season.

Aristides Aquino isn’t going to hit .429 forever. And he’s not going to slug .900, either. But it’s been one heck of a ride through the first eight games of 2019 for the outfielder. He’s made an impression in many ways. But it’s the loud way that he’s made an impression that might stick with you a decade from now.

34 Responses

  1. Jack

    I hope he is willing to take a walk. From the looks of his last 3 AB’s he may have seen his last strike from the Cubs this series.

    • Pete

      This may be the hardest thing for AA to grasp – sometimes you need to take the walk and move the line forward. IMO, he knows the strike zone and can hit anything inside it – very seldom beat within it. If he can adapt, the sky is the limit. The last three AB’s were ugly.

  2. AWA85

    Do we think his strikeout rates will translate to be an everyday player or is it still very up in the air?

  3. 44Reds

    Seeing a rangy number 44 in the outfield makes me giddy. Doug, someone asked you in a recent post why AA isn’t ranked higher given his proximity, tool-heavy ceiling, and likely floor as a 4th outfielder. All that seems to add up to an excellent prospect to me. Anecdotally, it seems like we are seeing more and more of these late bloomers pan out across MLB as teams start to open there minds more. With seemingly everyone on board with analytics, taking advantage of these late bloomers seems like one of the new market inefficiencies. Im glad to see the Reds giving these guys a chance.

    • Ghettotrout1

      He is only 25 so I wouldn’t really call him a late bloomer, Nick Senzel is 24. I would possibly qualify O’Grady as a late bloomer since he is 27. Not trying to call anyone out just saying.

    • MBS

      He was the 6th rated prospect for the Reds in 17, behind Senzel, Greene, Trammell, Mahle, and Winker

  4. wes

    I want to circle back around to convo yesterday about Aquino being the top prospect in reds organization….

    Here’s Doug’s quote against it (sorry Doug if you think I’m taking this out of context) “Aquino’s already 25 and getting his first taste of playing time. There’s nothing wrong with that at all – but that’s a real difficult sell as a #1 prospect. ”

    MLB does just that- they market and sell future stars potential to become actual stars. So we follow and root for these guys to play on our team, but at the same time they have to have some sort of marketability like being very young or a top draft choice or a top international prospect. So instead of using marketing ability, age, and draft/international ranking as determining factors- let’s use production, ceiling, and MLB readiness.

    Critizing Aquino’s K/BB rate is fair, and here is the most strikeout list:
    D Santana
    Baez
    Acuna Jr
    Harper
    Suarez
    Solar
    Alonzo
    (All stars)

    Now compare Baez vs Iglesias. Iglesias has had a solid season all around but if you are picking one or the other 100% of people would pick Baez in a 1/2 a heartbeat even though he’s 2nd in baseball in K’s.

    The Yanks philosophy is to have as much power as possible in their lineup and they welcome high strikeout guys as long as you can hit the ball over the fence.

    K ratio is loosing it’s luster in today’s power game.

    And Aquino’s arm in Right provides a plus power defense while is offensive production at AAA and big league level are superior as well as his ceiling which imo is much closer to Judge than Duvall….

    A more accurate ranking imo would be
    1. Lodolo
    2. Aquino

    • Doug Gray

      It’s not the strikeouts. It’s the strikeouts in relation to the walks. If you are going to strikeout and not walk, in order to be a star, you need to also be able to hit 30 bombs and also hit .290. The number of guys who can do that, while also not exactly being able to make contact, is insanely small.

  5. SultanofSwaff

    The Cubs radio guys were discussing Aquino and his swing changes. They said he dropped a toe tap load-up in favor of the open stance/stride. Obviously that approach helps in the power department, but it does make you susceptible to the offspeed stuff. Let’s hope he has the discipline to maximize his opportunities. You can’t help but be impressed with his start, but I’m withholding judgement until the league has seen him a bit.

  6. Martino

    It’s funny in some ways. Aquino at bat doesn’t at all look like a powerful guy. In fact my first impression was that of a skinny kid who might steal 40 bases instead of hitting 40 HRs. He certainly has a menacing look in the batters box, but it almost seems like a crazy look instead of a power hitter. If anything his Reds photo they use on the roster page looks like a troubled teenager. For years I’ve kind of looked at certain ball players and said (in my mind) “This kid doesn’t fit the mold” over the years. It really shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but I’m still surprised even at my age how so many players really surprise me with first impressions going by looks alone.
    You’d think that by now my brain would quit judging players on looks alone, but I can’t help it..
    I still think back to the game Castillo hit the ball for a base hit, but kind of stood along the first baseline looking at his bat instead of running to first.. I thought at that moment, “There’s no way this kid will ever hit another MLB ball with a bat. That had to be a fluke.”
    Shows what I know after all these years. ;)

  7. Tom

    While we’re talking swings, did Votto adopt Griffey Jr’s swing?

    • Ghettotrout1

      LOL Tom I actually thought that same thing after watching the last couple weeks.

  8. Cguy

    No question Aquino has been special so far, but Ervin is just smokin”. Phillip’s got a .434/.492/.679 line since the ASB with 4 doubles, 3 triples, & a HR in 59 PA.

  9. Tom

    Does O’Grady’s LH bat make for a complete lineup next year? I’d like to find out. Could save money not offering Dietrich.

    LF Winker / Ervin
    CF Senzel
    RF Aquino / O’Grady
    2B Van Meter / Blandino
    SS Peraza

    • Pete

      This is disheartening, why would anyone platoon Aristides Aquino or even think of platooning VanMeter with anyone let alone Blandino and last but maybe worst, make Jose Peraza an everyday SS. My mind can’t grasp this…but it’s probably not out of the realm of possibility Bell might do it so your idea has merit but I cringe.

      • Tom

        Just taking a conservative approach assuming there will be match up advantages doing it this way. Better to have the option than not. Blandino will have a big role to play, IMO. Peraza isn’t my favorite either, but who knows maybe next year is his year to hit .310.

      • Pete

        With AA, he looks like a guy with unique power skills. If he is able to reach and maintain his potential, he will be a very, very special player. Time will tell but his splits indicate he hits RHP as well as he does LHP. Same with JVM.

        My main issue with Peraza is his glove, I think his bat is good enough to play SS at the MLB level. But he absolutely killed the Reds last night. Admittedly he has 5 DRS at 2B but it boggles my mind. But I doubt his bat is good enough to be a 2B.

        Again, I do believe David Bell’s thinking is more inline with yours than mine – so I’m the outlier here.

    • MBS

      If Pasta Rodriguez continues to do well (now in AAA), and they don’t sign Iglesias, I think Alfredo will be the SS in 2020. I also doubt that Aquino will go to a platoon role. If they do want to stack a lefty lineup, Votto, VanMeter, Winker, O’Grady, Dietrich, and Barnhart could make it tough on opposing pitchers.

  10. Northern Ky Reds

    Let’s hope he gets the same opportunity that Stubbs and Hamilton got. Let’s hope our former number 1 pick Phil Ervin get a real shot that he truly deserves.

    • Earmbrister

      I was initially hoping that Ervin would get 1st crack at RF. However, it appears that the FO knows what it’s doing by starting Aquino.

      Ervin is bound to get some extended playing time due to injury. Is the FO already convinced that Ervin belongs on the 2020 opening day roster, hence the playing time for AA?

      In any case, the Reds 2020 outfield will seemingly all be playing at near league minimum. It should allow for the Reds to invest serious dollars elsewhere on the roster.

      • Alex

        This outfield is making the loss of trammell hurt less wouldnt you say!??

  11. kevinz

    Good Article for sure. The Tools thing old though. AA has always had the Tools.
    I believe if he is able to hit 240-260 with his Power he would be very big help to the reds. I know he on a Hott streak right now so enjoying it while it is Happening.
    I hope Reds keeping putting the Players in roles to have success.
    Whether that is Platooning them or Not whatever works do that.
    The Platooning has Helped a lot the Reds are 1st in or close to it in stat wise since the ASG.
    The Pitching is where the Rankings stink since the second half started.
    The SP has been good enough but the BP is working on fums from so much work from 1st Half. Hughes Hern Peralta Bobsteve have all crapped the Bed.

    • The Duke

      If Aquino can hit .250+ with a .300+ OBP, his power and defense in RF makes him a starting caliber MLB player.

      • kevinz

        exactly what i was thinking The Duke. So that what i am hoping Happens. I believe he can do that as long as his Confidence does not get shaken.
        He is due for a big slump like Vanmeter is going through.
        The adjustment Period is where we all will see what we have in the Young Players.

    • Doc

      Bullpen arms have thrown 40-45 innings each this year and we are 2/3 through the season. Hughes topped out last year at, what, 72 innings? Recent article about the last good Reds team at Riverfront in about 1999 listed the innings of the three stud relievers for that year. All 110-120, if I recall. Heck, if a starter hits 120 innings now they throw a party and he gets his salary doubled.

  12. SteveO

    He threw a runner out at 2B last night. I believe it was Castellanos. It was a hit to right-center that Senzel just missed and Aquino backed it up perfectly and fired a strike to 2B.

    • Doug Gray

      This is what happens when you write during the game and then plays happen and you forget to go back an update what you had written….. Thanks for the correction, Steve. I’ll edit this.

  13. Stock

    I listened to the news last night and they said the 118.3 exit velocity on Aquino’s HR was the highest by a Red this year. They are correct. The highest in the majors this year goes to Giancarlo Stanton. He hit one with an exit velocity of 120.6 on opening day vs. Andrew Cashner. In fact Aquino does not even get credit for the hardest hit ball by a rookie this year. That goes to Vladimir Guerrero. He hit one with an exit velocity of 118.9 vs Ivan Nova on May 11. Guerrero hit another one with an exit velocity of 118.3 (matching Aquino) last night.

    • RojoBenjy

      ” In fact Aquino does not even get credit for the hardest hit ball by a rookie this year.”

      Yet.

  14. Matt McWax

    A hypothetical Aquino that could barrel the ball often and lay off pitches out of zone, would be a star with his power. It’s not the most likely outcome, but like every other toolsy player, it’s tantalizing. His swing looks better than I expected, a pretty rare mix of bat speed and long lever power, but it looks fluid too. The most physically gifted stand to gain the most from a studious approach to baseball. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

  15. Todd

    Hey Doug, in our brief conversation during ST – I suggested that they look at Aquino as a pitcher, as it seemed his bat wouldn’t get him back on a MLB field. WOW – was that WRONG!!! Who saw this breakout coming?? I’m happy to see this and hope he is the long-term answer for the Reds in RF (best arm in system) for years to come.

  16. Jim m.

    I went to 3 Wahoo games when Aquino was on the team and he nailed a guy at home in each of those games. He has a cannon like Puig. I keot thinking if he laid off the pitches in the dirt he could be a better hitter. So glad he adjusted his stance and you can see the huge improvement. I hope he is the awnser for RF. Then Catcher, SS (if Iglesias isnt resigned) and or 2B is priority for huge upgrade for 2020 for offense. Then spend on bullpen as well