Eric Aguilera, First Baseman
HT : 6'2
WT : 218
DOB : July 3, 1990 (25), Cary, Illinois
Throws : Left
Bats : Left
School : Illinois State University (Normal, IL)
Acquired : Drafted in 34th Round of 2013 MLB Draft
Last Year's Ranking : #50
The Major League Baseball Draft began in 1965, and since the beginning, 25 players drafted in the 34th round have seen playing time at the Major League level. None are household names and have combined for a lifetime 14.9 WAR - according to Baseball-Reference - and the Los Angeles Angels may have found the 26th. When the Angels took Eric Aguilera in the 34th round of the 2013 Draft, hardly any knew his name or what he would become. Now, Aguilera is exceeding at every level he steps in and is making a case for himself to become a future Major League talent with the Angels. So much so, he nearly won the Angels Minor League Triple Crown last season.
Aguilera has always been able to hit. He has a strong and swift swing from the left-side, and keeps his bat through the zone throughout his entire swing allowing for optimal contact. He has great hand-eye coordination, and when added with his advanced approach, he will always see his batting average high and a continued strong hold through his career.
Aguilera keeps an easy approach at the plate, simply trying to keep things simple. He's patient, waiting for his pitch while working the count, and ready to put a good swing on anything he finds desirable. He goes to the plate with a game plan for each at bat, and is able to draw walks while working counts and making the pitcher think. With his experience and ability to read pitchers - and pitches - he is a constant force to reach base.
When it comes to power, Aguilera uses his entire frame to create a force behind his swing, but more so in his upper body. He has quick wrist and can turn on the inside pitch with power, and can also let the ball travel deep in the zone and use his strong upper body to swing away and over the fences. Last season, no Angels minor leaguer saw more balls leave the park than Aguilera.
When it comes to defense, Aguilera is quite versatile. He was an outfielder during his college years, and has seen time at the corners as a professional, but his new true position is at first base. When he first became a professional, Aguilera didn't own a first base mit, and had to borrow one just to play. Now, he's one of the system's best defensive first baseman, with above-average receiving skills and stellar range to both sides.
Aguilera won't stun you with his speed, but he uses his natural athleticism and mental side to gain ground on the base paths. He used the off-season before last to focus on getting good jumps and reads, and it helped his stolen base total jump by a nice margin. He has good knowledge of what a pitcher will throw, and the right time to steal, all while being aggressive on his own during his trips around the base paths.
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Aguilera began his baseball career as a prep player at Cary-Grove High School, where he hit .425 with nine doubles, four home runs and 33 RBI as a senior. Ags earned multiple accolades that year, consisting of Fox-Valley All-Conference, Northwest Herald and Daily Herald First-Team All-Area honors. That season, Aguilera helped lead Cary-Grove to a Fox Valley Division Championship.
Aguilera went on to Heartland Community College where he put together two solid seasons. In his freshman year, Aguilera hit .442 with 15 doubles, 11 home runs and 59 RBI, being named a M-WAC Second-Team All-Conference selection. As a sophomore, Ags hit .470 with 18 doubles, 20 home runs and 71 RBI. He earned NJCAA First-Team All-American and Region 24 Player of the Year honors.
After a junior college career, Aguilera transferred to Illinois State, where he amassed an outstanding career. Over his final two seasons at ISU, Aguilera held a .339/.384/.507 slash with 22 doubles, 14 home runs, 94 RBI and 79 runs scored. As a junior, Aguilera led the Missouri Valley Conference with a .407 average in conference games. In both his junior and senior seasons, Ags earned All-MVC First-Team honors.
Aguilera kicked off his professional career with a bang, hitting .306/.341/.539 with 22 doubles and 10 home runs in 59 games, all while collecting 53 RBI. He reached base in 47 of the 59 games he played, and finished the season with a 10-game hit-streak with eight of those games going for multiple hits. Over that final span, Aguilera hit .462 with a 1.258 OPS, lifting his overall OPS 78 points.
In his sophomore professional season, Aguilera led Low-A Burlington in nearly every offensive statistic, batting .292/.342/.446 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs and 71 RBI. In the middle part of the season, Aguilera had an astonishing 81 game stretch, batting .317/.365/.531, picking up all 14 of his home runs, and 18 of his doubles.
Last season, Aguilera became a common name among Angels fans, nearly taking home the system's Triple Crown with .313 average, 17 home runs and 94 RBI. His season average was hurt over his final 20 games where he hit just .186, but this all came after batting .336 over his first 107 games. In his first 13 games of August, he hit .462 with a 1.220 OPS, which was highlighted by eight multi-hit games. Three of those games came in a row, one being a six-hit game, while he collected hits in eight straight at bats, one shy of a league all-time record.
Aguilera is currently sitting behind multiple others in the depth chart, which only hurt him because he'll be 26 by the All-Star break next season. Though where he stands would recommend Double-A to begin next season, he would fit well in the Triple-A lineup where he could continue to carry a hot bat in a hitter friendly league.
The bat could carry Aguilera to the top, as a nice bench piece from the left-side. However, his tools would recommend that he's a future starter, but the depth charts will say different. If he can begin to show his versatility as an outfielder, there's a chance Aguilera becomes a power friendly left-handed hitter who just happens to see a high strikeout total.
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This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.