Scouting Yankees Prospect #26: Angel Aguilar

The Yankees signed shortstop Angel Aguilar in 2012 out of Venezuela. Very much an under the radar amateur signing at the time, he has quickly developed into one of the premier middle infield prospects for the Yankees and he offers one of the more significant ceilings down on the farm.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Angel Aguilar
Position: Shortstop
DOB: June 13, 1995
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The Yankees signed him reportedly for a mere $60,000 and he had a very ho-hum debut season statistically later that year, hitting just .234 with only three extra-base hits in 49 Dominican Summer League games. Behind the numbers, however, team officials were already pretty impressed with his overall game and believed there was some significant projection to his game too.

"He has a wonderful knack of playing the game," Yankees Coordinator of International Development Pat McMahon said upon the conclusion of the 2012 campaign. "He has a great feel for the game as a young player.

"His baseball awareness is a neat deal. When he has to throw, he throws. When he doesn't have to, he doesn't. When he needs to back off, he does that. He has a great feel for the game. Offensively he has the chance to become a really good player for us."

"A Venezuelan shortstop named Angel Aguilar [is] a big-time defender now and can really play," former senior vice-president Mark Newman concurred at the time. "He has an immature, lanky body, 17-year old, but he's an impressive defender."

Though the numbers weren't there immediately those that saw Aguilar play were very excited about his long-term potential. However, it didn't take long for that potential to begin materializing. He hit a number of home runs during Dominican Instructs in 2012 and followed up his strong offseason with a solid performance repeating the Dominican Summer League in 2013, hitting .262 but with 24 extra-base hits.

The production was starting to match the eye test and the excitement level surrounding Aguilar also began to tick upwards.

"Oh, he's special," McMahon said upon the conclusion of the 2013 season. "He's outstanding. He has an outstanding internal game clock. He plays the game and uses his arm, has outstanding defensive ability, his offense has improved significantly, and doubled up from an OPS perspective.

"He's on line and in progress to make it so it's about playing time and letting him play the game. I'm very proud of his progress and development. He's becoming a complete player with good aptitude."

Fast forward to 2014, Aguilar's first season in the United States, and once again the production went to a whole different level. He wound up hitting .311 with 19 extra-base hits, including seven home runs [which ranked second in the Gulf Coast League], despite missing a few weeks with a groin injury.

"Aside from the injury I had I felt the season went great," Aguilar said through the help of a translator. "I knew the power was there and that I had the capacity to do it.

"My batting improved the most. I was laying off of a lot of pitches I used to swing at and I was making much better contact with the pitches I was able to hit."

A very good defensive shortstop, Aguilar also saw some time at third base and second base behind the scenes in an effort to get him into the lineup more simply because of the many gifted defensive shortstops the Yankees have at the lower levels. While that might frustrate some younger prospects, Aguilar took it all in stride.

"I have played [third] before back in Venezuela and I feel comfortable there," he said. "I'm still a young player and not everything has been defined what position I'm going to play so I think it's better to get work at all three positions."

Playing other positions, however, shouldn't be viewed as a sign he can't play shortstop more than adequately. In fact, it's quite the contrary.

"He's not a guy I think will have to wind up having to move [positions] unless he outgrows the position so first and foremost he can play shortstop," GCL Yankees2 manager Pat Osborn said, "and the bat though is what's going to carry him."

His offensive production has continued to progress each season thus far and nobody really knows how far it could wind up developing. What they do know, however, is that there is a special offensive ceiling with Aguilar and he plays one of the real premium positions in the game defensively.

"He's a hell of a prospect," Osborn added. "His numbers speak for themselves obviously. I would have voted for him as the best player in the league and that's from the teams we saw. You're talking about a guy that's 19 years old that plays a premium position and can play it.

"I think he profiles as an offensive middle of the diamond player with a chance to hit for a lot of power. It's surprising because he's not the biggest guy but somehow, some way he generates a lot of bat speed and can really impact the baseball."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2014 GCL Yankees2 .311 151 11 7 31 34 8 14 28 .373 .536
2013 DSL Yankees2 .262 229 18 3 37 35 2 17 44 .326 .406
2012 DSL Yankees2 .234 171 3 0 11 19 1 8 33 .284 .251


Batting and Power. He shows advanced patience at the plate and good pitch recognition, he has a knack for barreling the baseball, and he's adept at using all fields when he consistently stays short with his swing and doesn't try to muscle up and swing for the fences. While Aguilar possesses plus bat speed and it's a major reason why he not only projects to have average or better power potential but the requisite skills to be a good hitter for average too, it's his overall demeanor and aura in the batter's box that truly stands out. Few young hitters can match his confidence and confidence is king when it comes to hitting.

Base Running and Speed. Aguilar isn't a prototypical middle infielder. His natural speed is more average than anything but it can play a level up because of his natural feel for the game and overall instincts. He is an exceptional station to station runner, one who is adept at taking the extra base, but the average speed should limit him to lower double-digit stolen base seasons and perhaps maxing out with the occasional 20-bag plateau.

Defense. Even though the speed is rather average Aguilar does have a knack for positioning himself correctly, getting good reads off of the bat, and therefore showing above average range in almost Cito Culver-like fashion at shortstop. He has plus arm strength too and it does afford the Yankees the ability to slide him over to third base when the need arises, and he is also quite nimble and athletic, and can play a fine second base too as a result. He is an above average defender at all three positions.

Projection. Perhaps more than most Aguilar's projection is still not yet clearly defined. He has average power potential or better for a middle infielder but lacks the above average or plus speed normally associated with the positions and he might not develop the above average or plus power for a power hitting position like third base. Offensively a little Anthony Rendon like ceiling-wise, he's a bit of a 'tweener right now, either projecting as a plus offensive middle infielder or an average offensive corner guy if he continues to grow physically. One of his biggest strengths, his defensive versatility, is what also clouds his long-term projection too. With off the charts makeup he projects as a future big league utility man at minimum but there is still a lot projection left in both his hitting and power too. There's big league starting potential at more than a couple of positions.

ETA. N/A. Aguilar's ETA is also cloudier than most and it's because it remains to be see how aggressively he gets pushed if he's to remain at shortstop given the amount of high-caliber shortstops in the farm system. He could either break camp in low-A Charleston this coming season or man shortstop for either short-season club, Staten Island or Pulaski. He can fit in a lot of different positions at more than a couple of levels.


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