As the Reds have struggled to stay in contention at times for the postseason in the NL Central, we’ve seen the team try different lineups to figure out how to jump start an offense that has been frustratingly ice cold seemingly every other game or so. But to the delight of Reds fans and prospect watchers, this has meant the team has given opportunities to some of their top prospects. Pitching prospect Tejay Antone and hitting prospects Jose Garcia, Aristides Aquino, and Tyler Stephenson have all been seeing action with the Redlegs lately, to varying degrees of success. Antone I’ve highlighted in a recent article, so I thought I would give an update on where things stand with Aquino and Garcia, with the hope of calming fears that dynasty owners of both might be having given rather underwhelming results so far.
It’s hard to forget how Aristides Aquino exploded onto the scene towards the end of summer 2019, hitting 19 home runs in his roughly two month stint in the majors, on top of 28 home runs at AAA before being called up. But not long after the calendar turned the page to September, Aquino came crashing down to earth as pitchers adjusted to his hit tendencies. He hit a meager .196/.236/.382 with 34 strikeouts and only 5 home runs in 110 plate appearances. What happened?! Unfortunately, because there isn’t a large sample size to go off (only 2 months from last year), there isn’t a lot of data on him on the sites I use for tracking player stats, which makes diagnosing Aquino’s dramatic crash in September difficult. What is clear, however, is pitchers figured out that it’s probably advisable to pitch to him outside the zone, low and away, and Aquino started chasing those pitches and striking out.
I believe that the real Aquino is somewhere in between what he did last August and what we did in September. I think a normal, full season will really tell the tale but unfortunately we won’t have that until next year (maybe). In the meantime, I’m taking a wait and see approach. He certainly has enough plate discipline to get on base via walks, which is worth something. And home run power has been there all throughout his minor league career.
Aristides Aquino – Cincinnati Reds (1) 2-run. pic.twitter.com/9zdiJApLD7
— MLB HR Tracker (@hr_mlb) September 13, 2020
No doubt that Reds fans were chomping at the bit to see Jose Garcia swoop in and save the Reds’ offense from its slump, when he was brought up from the alternate site on August 26th. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out like that. Garcia got off to an ice cold start, slashing just .211/.224/.211 with no home runs and one stolen base. He did start amassing a few hits in the past week but it’s a far cry from what most fans were expecting to see. But in fairness to Garcia, it has to be a jarring experience going from just two seasons in the low minors to the big leagues. On a positive note, he’s made several excellent defensive plays, which the Reds desperately need as most of their roster is average to below average defensively. The scouting reports on Garcia leave no doubt he will get there, he just needs more time refining his approach and mechanics. I see Garcia starting next season at AA or AAA to get more reps and work in without the pressure of trying to boost a contending major league team.
First MLB AB, first MLB hit.
Congratulations, Jose Garcia! pic.twitter.com/arD0YOFTOY
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 27, 2020