On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the waiver claim of recently well-traveled left-handed pitcher Jayson Aquino from Cleveland. Earlier this week, the Indians had designated the 23-year-old for assignment after claiming former St. Louis outfielder Joey Butler on waivers from Tampa Bay.
The Cardinals become Aquino’s fifth organization in the last 11 months. He began the calendar year with Colorado but was designated for assignment at the end of January. Aquino was then dealt to the Blue Jays for another minor league left-hander.
Originally signed by Colorado in May 2010, Aquino spent most of his first three summers in the Dominican Summer League. After the 2013 season, which he finished in the Class A Sally League, Aquino was added to the Rockies’ 40-man roster, that November. Since, he used two of his three allowable option years in 2014 and 2015.
Coming into 2014, Aquino was the Colorado Rockies’ 17th-ranked prospect in MLB.com’s ratings and 28th according to Baseball America. However, prospect watchers’ interest waned after he went on to post an ugly 5.13 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 18 starts that season between A-Advanced Modesto and Double-A Tulsa. He also made four starts in the Arizona Fall League.
Despite all the stops here in 2015, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder rebounded somewhat. Then again, it was his second summer at the A-Advanced level and higher. This season, Aquino logged a 3.28 ERA in 137 1/3 innings. That included a no-hit bid he lost with two out in the ninth on August 29th. Though he possesses good velocity, he is not a strikeout pitcher. Aquino struck out just 5.6 batters per nine and walked right at two batters per nine in 2015.
Aquino is not being placed on The Cardinal Nation’s top 40 prospect list for 2016 at this time.
In an October interview with our sister site IndiansBaseballInsider.com, former MLB pitcher and current Indians A-Advanced Lynchburg pitching coach Rigo Beltran spoke about Aquino.
Q: Left-hander Jayson Aquino is someone the organization picked up in a trade at the end of July. What did you see out of him the last two months of the season?
Rigo Beltran: "I have been excited about him. I love his arm strength. He is very athletic and bounces up off the mound very well. He is a kid who is always asking questions and wants to get better. He has blended in really well with the team. He has been a great addition to the organization."
Q: What really stuck out about him in the short time you had him?
RB: "His stuff is really good. He has a swing and miss changeup. He has a slider that sometimes acts more as a cutter than a slider, but the shape is there and it is very good and could become a swing and miss pitch as well. He definitely has arm strength with his fastball as he is up to 94-95 MPH, and anytime you get a left-hander that can touch that it is going to open up some eyes."
Aquino will move from Cleveland’s 40-man roster to St. Louis’. At this point, the day before the Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals have 35 players on the 40-man.
In other news: Balkovec joins Astros
Yet another member of the Cardinals player development community is leaving the organization for the Houston Astros. Jupiter-based minor league strength and conditioning coordinator Rachel Balkovec is becoming Houston’s Latin American Strength and Conditioning Coordinator. The Omaha, Nebraska native shared her decision on Twitter Wednesday.
The Cardinals have yet to announce their minor league staff assignments for 2016.
For more roster detail
Remember that to see the entire Cardinals system from the Dominican Summer League to St. Louis in one graphical view with all transactions, free agents and more, check out the Roster Matrix, kept updated at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
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