Top 30 Cincinnati Prospects: No. 24

This year’s top Cincinnati prospect list includes some talent that was brought into their system from offseason trades. However, Aristides Aquino came from inside the organization to crash the party after an outstanding season at Billings. A lot of eyes will be on this five-tool prospect to see if he can sustain success over his first full season.

Projecting young foreign prospects can be difficult. It’s well known that the Dominican Republic has a passion for baseball, hence the presence of scouts from every team there and the abundance of contracts given to teenagers. Still, most have raw skills and their chance for advancing is dependent upon improvement. However, history shows that this country will produce a lot of MLB talent, so which players will continue that legacy? How about a 20 year-old that finished in the top two in the Pioneer league in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases?

Aristides Aquino crashes the list this year after slashing a line of .292 AVG./.342 OB/.577 SLG/16 HR in 71 games for Billings. He’s completed four professional seasons in the rookie leagues including two in the Dominican Summer League where he began playing at the age of seventeen. He’s another example of how deceiving meager DSL stats can be with young players because Cincinnati moved him stateside in 2013 even though he was unable to hit .200. It was a good decision as he turned in a respectable AZL campaign that was a harbinger of what was to come in 2014. He won’t turn 21 until after opening day and he should be celebrating his birthday at Dayton in his first full season.

He still needs to improve plate discipline and oddly enough his walk rate has been about half since arriving stateside of what it was when he was still in the DSL. He’s still striking out in more than 20% of his plate appearances, but there has been improvement with contact over the past couple of seasons. Overall there’s good reason to believe he’ll develop a better eye at the plate and some extra whiffs are acceptable with a prospect projecting as much raw power as Aquino. His slugging percentage jumped around .100’ last year and it will probably be difficult to maintain that closer to sea level against higher level pitching, but he still should at least crack the 20 HR level over a full season.

Aquino’s skills are not limited to the batter’s box. The 6’4”/190# right-hander’s strong arm makes him a classic right-fielder where he gunned down 13 outfield assists in 65 appearances last season. That number along with his mobility provided a range factor of over 2 in the corner position. He was charged with five errors, but overall his fielding percentage last year increased .024’ higher than what he put up at Arizona the previous year. He also made huge strides utilizing his speed on the base-paths where he was successful in 21 of 26 stolen base attempts after getting thrown out more than half the time over the previous three seasons.

2014 was quite a season for Aquino as he moved himself from off-the-radar to a high-ceiling five-tool prospect. He isn’t as highly regarded as some other foreign outfield prospects in the Cincinnati system who signed with more lucrative bonuses, but that could change soon. Something clicked for this prospect in 2014 and Dayton fans have good reason to see if that continues in the upcoming season. They shouldn’t get too attached to Aquino however, because similar damage in the Midwest League should earn a promotion to Daytona by the end of the season.


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