Aguilera Maturing

SALEM, VA - Mike Augliera is mature in his years compared to his Salem teammates, but being twenty-three has its benefits in the game of baseball. The New Jersey pitcher graduated from Binghamton University in upstate New York before he was drafted, and his time outside of the system prepared him that much more for the challenges he would face on the field.

"A goal of mine at Spring Training was to make it to Salem," Aguilera said. "I'd love to advance through the system, but, when I made it here, goal number one was kind of checked off. I had to alter my goals a little bit."

He had a solid professional debut season a year ago with the short-season Lowell Spinners, posting a 4.42 ERA in the New York Penn League and walking just three batters in sixteen appearances.

He's once again had another strong season this year, his first full season at the professional level and with that has come a big learning curve.

"I think I've learned about myself a lot as a pitcher," he said. "I've just evolved and learned how to pitch more, get out of tough situations. I've matured every game and tried to trust my team more."

He has posted a 4.06 ERA thus far this season and has personified being a professional on the mound, tossing six innings more more in six of his last nine starts.

"Mike's been a stable person in the bullpen," Salem Red Sox pitching coach Kevin Walker said. "He's the kind of person you can rely on, kind of a veteran guy around here, because he's had four years of college experience. He's the guy we rely on to go out and pound the strikes on them with sinkers, sliders, and changeups. We trust him in the strike zone and know he's the right ball guy."

"We've had our ups and downs as a team, and we're in a little bit of a skid right now," Aguilera added. "I think, overall, the season's been a success for most of us. Now, we're trying to make a late run into the playoffs to try and cap off this season."

As solid as he's been though, he still has had his share of pitfalls in 2013. While he does bring a ton of experience on an otherwise younger team, he too has some things he would like to tweak going forward.

"There's a lot I need to improve on," Aguilera admitted. "I need to improve on all three pitches, the location of them, the location of the fastball, and limit beginnings. There's always improvement, so I don't think I'll ever stop trying to improve myself."

"The thing he has to work on is his slider," Walker added. "He's got a good change up, but in order to continue to move up the ladder we've got to refine his slider. It's not so much his fastball, but it's more about the drop in his pitches.

"I think the sink he has to work out on his own, but I definitely think he has power. He just needs to get focused on leveraging the ball downfield and letting the ball play on its own. He knows it. He works hard at it. It's there. We've seen it. But, can we potentially get it out in the game?"

Walker's question might be the determining factor in order to meet Aguilera's new goal.

"The biggest thing for me is that I want to stay healthy for a full season and show that I can play at any level," he said. "Personally, I just want to keep getting better and improve after each outing; I know I've had some good outings, some bad outings, and I just want to stay consistent for the last of the year."

Aguilera has pitched very well down the stretch, allowing two earned runs or less in six of his last eight starts, and he's shown that he has what it takes to become one of the better pitching prospects in the Boston farm system.

"He's a really good pitcher, but this is another guy who's in his second year of pro ball," Walker said. "If he can continue to throw and develop, we really can't predict the future with these guys."


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"A goal of mine at Spring Training was to make it to Salem,\" Aguilera said. \"I'd love to advance through the system, but, when I made it here, goal number one was kind of checked off. I had to alter my goals a little bit.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe had a solid professional debut season a year ago with the short-season Lowell Spinners, posting a 4.42 ERA in the New York Penn League and walking just three batters in sixteen appearances.
\r\n
\r\nHe's once again had another strong season this year, his first full season at the professional level and with that has come a big learning curve.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I've learned about myself a lot as a pitcher,\" he said. \"I've just evolved and learned how to pitch more, get out of tough situations. I've matured every game and tried to trust my team more.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe has posted a 4.06 ERA thus far this season and has personified being a professional on the mound, tossing six innings more more in six of his last nine starts.
\r\n
\r\n\"Mike's been a stable person in the bullpen,\" Salem Red Sox pitching coach Kevin Walker said. \"He's the kind of person you can rely on, kind of a veteran guy around here, because he's had four years of college experience. He's the guy we rely on to go out and pound the strikes on them with sinkers, sliders, and changeups. We trust him in the strike zone and know he's the right ball guy.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"We've had our ups and downs as a team, and we're in a little bit of a skid right now,\" Aguilera added. \"I think, overall, the season's been a success for most of us. Now, we're trying to make a late run into the playoffs to try and cap off this season.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs solid as he's been though, he still has had his share of pitfalls in 2013. While he does bring a ton of experience on an otherwise younger team, he too has some things he would like to tweak going forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"There's a lot I need to improve on,\" Aguilera admitted. \"I need to improve on all three pitches, the location of them, the location of the fastball, and limit beginnings. There's always improvement, so I don't think I'll ever stop trying to improve myself.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"The thing he has to work on is his slider,\" Walker added. \"He's got a good change up, but in order to continue to move up the ladder we've got to refine his slider. It's not so much his fastball, but it's more about the drop in his pitches.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the sink he has to work out on his own, but I definitely think he has power. He just needs to get focused on leveraging the ball downfield and letting the ball play on its own. He knows it. He works hard at it. It's there. We've seen it. But, can we potentially get it out in the game?\"
\r\n
\r\nWalker's question might be the determining factor in order to meet Aguilera's new goal.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest thing for me is that I want to stay healthy for a full season and show that I can play at any level,\" he said. \"Personally, I just want to keep getting better and improve after each outing; I know I've had some good outings, some bad outings, and I just want to stay consistent for the last of the year.\"
\r\n
\r\nAguilera has pitched very well down the stretch, allowing two earned runs or less in six of his last eight starts, and he's shown that he has what it takes to become one of the better pitching prospects in the Boston farm system.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a really good pitcher, but this is another guy who's in his second year of pro ball,\" Walker said. \"If he can continue to throw and develop, we really can't predict the future with these guys.\"
\r\n
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