Rising prospect Aguilar is enjoying the game
Baseball season can seem long and tedious at times, especially for someone who has played nearly every day, but for Akron Aeros’ first baseman Jesus Aguilar, it’s all about enjoying the opportunities.
Aguilar, 22, has had a significant year in the development process as he’s advanced from high-A Carolina to AA-Akron in addition to his experience at the MiLB Futures Game.
The Venezuelan native signed with the Indians in 2007 and has now become one of the organization’s most highly regarded prospects as his bat has turned heads and ignited some buzz.
Last year, things seemed to finally click for Aguilar as he crafted a solid season between low-A Lake County and high-A Kinston. The 6’3”, 240-pound power hitter hit .292 with 19 home runs and a .914 OPS through 95 games with the Captains before his promotion to Kinston, where he hit .257 with four home runs in 31 games.
Now, Aguilar is working to adhere to life with the Aeros and he feels like the adjustment process is going well.
“It’s hard sometimes, because you’ve got to make adjustments,” Aguilar said. “But I think it’s good. You’ve got to adjust. I feel really good.”
Aguilar’s numbers may have tailed off a bit since his move to Akron, but he isn’t discouraged. In fact, he sees the difficult increase in competition as an imperative factor in his development.
“The strike zone is the biggest difference,” he said. “The strike zone here is more consistent. The pitchers here have more control of the breaking pitch, which is good for me because I can see the pitch in the zone.”
Aguilar feels that the atmosphere among the differing levels he’s experienced is essentially the same; it’s the opposing pitching that requires the biggest adjustment. “The pitchers are much better than in low-A. They make adjustments, but I make adjustments too.”
Aguilar keeps a simple approach at the plate: make hard contact. Doing so can be tough at times, though, especially when pitchers are throwing tougher breaking balls than what he’s seen in the past.
“I’m trying to work on my balance at the plate because sometimes I go forward on breaking pitches,” Aguilar explained.
Aguilar had the opportunity to work with some of the game’s best and brightest as he was selected to attended the 2012 Futures’ Game earlier this year.
“That helped me a lot through the experience,” he said. “I saw a lot of good pitching. It was amazing because they talked to me like I was a major leaguer. I learned to keep working hard.”
Aguilar’s hard work has paid off as he made another successful bid for himself during the 2012 season. Between Carolina and Akron combined, he finished the regular season hitting .280 with 15 home runs, 71 RBI, 58 walks, and 115 strikeouts in 127 games.
Aeros’ manager Chris Tremie has only managed Aguilar for 18 games this season, but he has already noticed the first baseman’s resiliency and dedication to improving his game.
“He’s making adjustments to things he’s seen at the next level that all the hitters have to make in general,” Tremie explained. “Pitchers here compared to A-ball have better command of their off-speed pitches and they can usually locate their fastball in on a more regular basis, so I think that’s an adjustment for any hitter and I think he’s adjusting to that.”
Tremie feels that the adjustment process with be short for Aguilar and once those adjustments are made, Aguilar’s power will develop.
“Mechanically, there’s nothing wrong with his swing," Tremie said. "He’s a little unique, he’s got a little bit of a barrel wrap in his swing and he’s a little bit out in front with his front foot, but that’s kind of the hitter he is, so he’s going to work on controlling that and minimizing the movement with the barrel and minimizing how much he gets out in front. If he does that, he’s so strong that he can really drive the ball.”
Driving the ball is the core of Aguilar’s focus, but as the Aeros prepare for the Eastern League playoffs, he’s got other things in mind. He said he’s taking in the experience for his own development and for the mental scrapbook.
“Somebody told me you’ve got to enjoy this game,” he said.
So far, so good.
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.
And if he can produce, he may see some big-league pitching at some time next year if the Indians commit to rebuilding.
Sounds like a well-adjusted, young man.