When you see the name Aristides Aquino, what comes to mind?
An unknown Greek god who may have been the third cousin of Zeus?
A philosopher, like Aristotle, Socrates or Plato?
A brand of bottled water?
Or do you envision an unheralded Reds outfielder coming out of nowhere to suddenly dominate opposing pitchers?
Here is a look at some of the damage the 25-year-old Dominican star has done since getting the call after veteran outfielder Yasiel Puig was dealt to the Indians:
- Aquino became the fastest player to hit nine career home runs. It took him 14 games — besting Colorado’s Trevor Story, who had eight in his first 14 games in 2016. It also took just 47 plate appearances for him to smack his first nine career homers, the fewest in MLB history.
- Aquino entered Friday night three homers behind Adam Dunn for the most big flies in any month by an NL rookie, a record set in 2001.
- Aquino had a three-homer game against the Cubs on Aug. 10, tying an MLB record by going deep in three consecutive innings.
- Aquino set a Reds exit velocity record (118.3 mph, the ninth fastest in the Statcast era) with a two-run, 445-foot homer off Cole Hamels on Aug. 8. (FYI: Five of his first eight homers were hit over 400 feet, three that were launched more than 445 feet.)
All of these incredible numbers make it easy to understand why his nickname is “The Punisher” and why he has been the most added player in ESPN leagues. His ownership spiked from 4.1 percent to 70.4 percent.
Amazingly, there is a good chance you never had heard of Aquino before this stretch, despite the fact he has been in the Reds’ system since 2011.
Aquino was the Reds’ minor league Player of the Year in 2016 after hitting .273 with 23 homers, 79 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 69 runs and a .846 OPS in advanced Class-A. He followed that by hitting .216 in 2017 and .240 in 2018 while playing in Double-A, despite smacking 37 combined home runs.
After altering his batting stance, he hit .299 with 28 homers, 53 RBIs, 56 runs and five stolen bases in 78 games at Triple-A this season. He also had a .356 on-base percentage and .636 slugging percentage (.992 OPS). He did, however, strike out in 25.1 percent of his at-bats while walking in just 7.1 percent.
That is the part of his game that is concerning. He is very aggressive at the plate — something major league pitchers will find a way to exploit. In 2,909 minor league at-bats, he struck out 760 times (26.1 percent). Despite his early success in the majors, he is swinging and missing nearly 16 percent of the time, is swinging at 58.1 percent of the pitches he sees and has struck out in 23.5 percent of his at-bats.
Aquino batting over .350 the rest of the season seems about as likely as Nolan Ryan coming out of retirement tomorrow and throwing a no-hitter against the Yankees. Aquino hit .248 over nine minor league seasons, .227 in four seasons (36 games) in the Dominican Winter League and wasn’t considered to be among the Reds’ top 30 prospects.
For the moment, however, Aquino is thriving. He is crushing everything pitchers throw at him, including the secondary pitches youngsters normally struggle with. Just remember, this is a small sample size and his numbers will not always look as they do right now.
That being said, he is getting regular playing time and hitting in the middle of a competent Reds lineup. He also will play nine of Cincinnati’s remaining 16 home games against teams ranked in the top five in homers allowed, and 13 of their last 19 away games against teams ranked in the top 12 in homers allowed (including Seattle, which has allowed the second most behind the awful Orioles). Aquino is a great late-season find who has a chance to remain a fantasy force down the stretch.
Ronald Acuna Jr. OF, Braves
The 21-year-old entered Saturday with at least one hit in 15 of his past 16 games — going 25-for-72 (.347) with 10 homers, 21 RBIs, 20 runs, five stolen bases and a 1.195 OPS in that span.
Ivan Nova SP, White Sox
Has allowed just two earned runs over his past 37 innings (0.49 ERA) while going 4-0 with 17 strikeouts and a .159 opponent average in five starts since July 22.
Jorge Soler OF, Royals
In his first 13 games this month, the 27-year-old hit .421 with seven homers, 14 RBIs, 13 walks, 14 runs, a stolen base and a 1.638 OPS.
Jose Quintana SP, Cubs
The lefty has not lost since June 22, and is 6-0 with a 3.40 ERA and 50 strikeouts in his past eight starts. He has walked just seven in that span.
Daniel Murphy 1B, Rockies
The former Met has not homered since July 26 and entered Saturday with just three hits in his previous 32 at-bats (.094) with nine strikeouts.
Mike Leake SP, Diamondbacks
Has allowed 29 hits, including eight homers and 15 runs (14 earned) in his first three starts with Arizona. Opponents are hitting .397 against him in those starts.
Josh Reddick OF, Astros
His last homer came on June 28, and he has gone 23-for-122 (.189) with eight RBIs, 19 strikeouts and a .473 OPS in 35 games since.
Cole Hamels SP, Cubs
Is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA and .429 opponent average in his first three starts since returning from the IL. Allowed 12 earned runs in his past two starts.
- Gio Urshela entered Saturday on an eight-game hit streak. He also had at least one hit in 21 of his previous 23 games — going 42-for-90 (.467) with nine homers, 21 RBIs, 23 runs and a 1.389 OPS in that span. He also remained available in more than 30 percent of ESPN leagues.
- In need of saves? Tampa Bay’s Emilio Pagan entered Saturday having converted his previous six save chances (since July 30), and allowed one run and a .226 opponent average over his past eight appearances (1.13 ERA).
- John Means was a bit of a surprise over his first 17 appearances (13 starts) as he was 7-4 with a 2.50 ERA. Over his past six starts, he has gone 1-4 with a 6.98 ERA, .296 opponent average and eight homers allowed (the Baltimore staff, as of Friday, allowed a whopping 250 big flies, including 61 to the Yankees in 19 games). In other words, he got the memo that he was an Orioles pitcher.
Team Name of the Week
Three strikes, you’re Trout!