Billings Plate 19

Billings was no stranger to the plate Sunday when they crossed it nineteen times. A couple of 20 year-old Mustangs, Ty Washington and Aristides Aquino lead the way with four hits each. The Pioneer League is notorious for inflating prospects’ offensive stats, but these two are sitting on .300 averages and making a case to try their luck closer to sea level at Dayton.

In a classic Pioneer League slugfest Sunday Billings outlasted host Ogden to bring home a 19-11 victory. The Mustangs got out of the gate hot when their fourth batter, Aristides Aquino started the scoring with a grand slam. That was followed by Taylor Sparks who manufactured a run after getting hit by a pitch when he stole second and tagged on fly balls by the next two hitters. Often after a start like that a team will cruise to an easy win, but the Raptors responded by tying the game in the bottom of the first and took a two-run lead in the next frame.

Billings tied the game in the third when Aquino cracked his second homer of the game only to fall behind again in the bottom of that inning. Not to be denied, the visitors kept their foot to the accelerator and finished the contest by scoring in each of the final seven innings to pull away.

Aquino continued with the hot bat in the fourth when he combined with Brian O’Grady on back-to-back doubles that plated a run each. Ty Washington contributed to a three-run fifth when he singled in a run before two more scored on another O’Grady double. The Mustangs crossed three more times the next frame when Sparks singled home a run and scored on a triple by Alex Greer who tagged up on a fly ball by the next hitter.

Ogden scored two more in the bottom of that inning, but the Mustangs continued to pile on when Washington singled home a run in the seventh and doubled before scoring on an error the next inning. Garret Boulware drove in a run with a ninth-inning double and scored the final one when Argenis Aldazoro singled.

The Mustangs pounded out eighteen hits led by Aquino and Washington with four plus one walk apiece. The muti-homer effort by Aquino keyed a seven-RBI performance. Greer added three hits to raise his average to .315 while O’Grady and Aldazoro added two each.

On the mound Jeremy Kival was roughed up for six earned runs before he left after the second inning. Soid Marquez took over and was touched up for two, but had timing that hung a win on him. Jacob Moody, Jordan Remer, and Brian Hunter combined for three-plus scoreless innings to close the game.

Washington is an interesting prospect despite not hearing his name called until the 43rd round of the 2011 draft (there are only 40 rounds now). Despite the late selection, Cincinnati saw something in him to make them pony up a $300,000 bonus to prevent him from attending the University of Oklahoma. He’s still 20 years old and in his third Rookie League season and second one at Billings. He did a decent job at the plate the first two years and has improved thus far in 2014, sitting on a .300 average after his outburst Sunday.

He’s a middle infielder stands 5’9”/160#, bats right-handed, and came into the organization with a reputation for a good glove, but perhaps a bit overly aggressive at the plate. Right now his on-base percentage is only .027’ higher than his average this season but he’s popped a couple of homers and hit enough doubles to raise his slugging percentage to .440. He’s also swiped twelve bases in 23 games while getting caught only twice.

Aquino is also twenty and in his fourth professional season after starting out as a seventeen year-old in the Dominican League. The right-fielder is now hitting .313 with a .350 on-base percentage and his nine homers have raised his slugging percentage to an impressive .633. He stands 6’4”/190# and throws right-handed. Last year he hit .278 in the Arizona League where he spent most of the short season after failing to crack .200 in two seasons in the DSL. He stands 6’4”/190# which could project some future power from the right side of the plate.

Both are off-the-radar prospects with skills that could make them sleepers to jump into future top Reds prospect lists. They need to improve plate discipline and have plenty of time to do it. For now they’re both improving on good seasons one year ago and making strong cases they’ll be ready to start their first full minor league season next year. That might not be their first taste of single A ball because they’re showing stuff that could punch their ticked to Dayton by the end of this year.


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