Aguilar’s Power Potential Can’t be Ignored
When Mark Trumbo was traded from the Los Angeles Angels to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago (who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Adam Eaton), Arizona GM Kevin Towers discussed the importance of right-handed power and the sudden lack of accessible power hitters in Major League Baseball, and why it appeared to cost so much to get Trumbo, a soon-to-be 28-year-old with 95 home runs and a career .768 OPS over 1,853 career plate appearances. Regardless of the costs, power, and offensive production as a whole, seems to be on the decline, while dominating young starting pitchers, like Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez, look to take over the game, so why not look to Jesus for help?
Jesus Aguilar, a 23-year-old first base prospect, spent the entirety of the 2013 minor league season playing for the Double-A Akron Aeros. The Venezuelan has a body that makes most sausage-loving Clevelanders feel a little more secure about bathing suit season, as Aguilar is rocking a 6’3″, 250 pound frame, which has led to a lot of long-term questions about whether he can maintain his “figure” to play first base at the major league level, or if he will be limited to designated hitter. There appears to be reasons to find a place for him, regardless of the girth:
While the numbers are solid, Aguilar has been all over the place with his skills. He started his career by showcasing solid plate discipline, which seemed to disappear in full-season ball in 2010, while following that up with a power spike in 2011, a slight decline in power as he advanced in 2012, and a solid season with another drop off in OPS and power (with a big RBI total…if you’re into that kind of thing) in 2013. The right-handed power is nice, but will it translate to the majors?
Well, when you have Jesus, anything is possible…like Aguilar’s Venezuelan Winter League dominance. Aguilar posted a .327/.403/.597 triple-slash with seven doubles, 18 home runs, and 50 RBI in 58 games and 226 at-bats, with a 43:26 K:BB. Solid production no matter the competition.
In 2014, Aguilar will take his talents to Triple-A Columbus, but should he be given a shot to win a roster spot this spring? Even with a few holes in his game and a few tens of pounds that the mainstream media may judge and critique, Aguilar’s right-handed power could be an asset for the Tribe at some point in 2014 – especially if he continues to produce like he did in Venezuela, which could lead to a trade for additional help, should the Indians be contenders once again. The Indians may roster Jason Giambi as another first base/DH option with an extremely team-friendly contract (having signed a minor league deal once again this winter), but one could argue that Giambi’s 216 plate appearances (his 2013 total) would be best served going to someone with a more enticing role in the future of the Indians’ organization.
Aguilar hasn’t really received the love that Francisco Lindor, Clint Frazier, and even Tyler Naquin have received, as he ranked No.17 in the Indians system according to MLB.com in 2013; however, Jason Parks was a bit kinder regarding his future (if you believe in his power) in the recent Baseball Prospectus rankings (subscription required), even though he didn’t rank within the club’s top 10.
Aguilar should be a useful piece in 2014 for the Tribe. Fans will come to cheer for Jesus and go home following him…on Twitter (@JAguilarCLE).