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Aguilar driving in runs, continuing growth as hitter

Aguilar driving in runs, continuing growth as hitter
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The life of a ballplayer consists of a multitude of adjustments.

Whether he’s adjusting to a three-game series in a new city or fighting off a 3-2 change-up, Jesus Aguilar is learning to handle change.

Last year, I spoke with Aguilar in late August as the season was drawing to a close. The first baseman was promoted to double-A Akron in mid-August after a solid bid with the high-A Carolina Mudcats, where he hit .277 with 58 RBIs and 12 home runs. Through 20 games with the Aeros, Aguilar hit .292 with a trio of home runs, 12 RBIs and .902 OPS.

When we spoke back in August, Aguilar told me his biggest focus was on driving the ball, which required some adjustments in his swing. He said the opposing pitching of the Eastern League was considerably tougher than that of the Carolina League, which in turn made the breaking pitches more advanced.

Aguilar encountered a bit of trouble with the curve as he found himself lunging forward on breaking pitches. This led to some adjustments in his footwork in order to maintain more balance through his swing, which he’s continuing to work on now.

“I’m still working on my footwork and balance,” he said. “I’m still going forward. I’m just trying to make a good swing and hard contact. You have to adjust really quick so sometimes we’re adjusting with every pitch. I just try to make hard contact no matter what they throw me.”

Aeros’ manager Edwin Rodriguez has spent time with Aguilar over the past two years in Carolina and Akron. Rodriguez noted Aguilar’s improved eye and discipline at the dish.

“When you show that ability to show some plate discipline, you’re going to be more ahead in the count and you’re going to see better pitches to hit,” Rodriguez explained.

As a result, Rodriguez feels Aguilar has made strides at the plate overall. He said that Aguilar worked on some mechanical elements with hitting coach Jim Rickon for a more efficient, compact swing.

“I think that has been the difference,” Rodriguez said. “Every time that you lunge on a pitch, your strike zone is going to get bigger and you’re behind in the count more consistent. Bottom line, his strike zone is better and his whole approach to his hitting is better.”

Aguilar agrees with his manager’s statement as he feels confident on the field.

“I feel really good at the plate,” he said. “I just need to get more RBIs.”

So far, so good as Aguilar currently leads the team with 58 RBIs. He’s hitting .264 with eight home runs through 71 games with the Aeros. He’s grown accustomed to life in the Akron area and enjoys life with his teammates.

“Everything is going good right now,” he said. “I think that we’ve got so many good people who play here. Right now, we work well together and everybody says good things about us.”

The positive feedback for Aguilar carries on as the first half of the Aeros’ season comes to a close. Aguilar has adjusted to the double-A level and as he continues to sort out his swing, he remains resilient in his endeavor to rack up the RBIs.

Stephanie is a crime and general assignment reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio. She’s an alumna of Cleveland State University with a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication. You can follow her on Twitter @7thInningSteph.

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