Jesus Aguilar: Crushing In Columbus

Jesus Aguilar is the very definition of a prospect with more value in fantasy baseball than in real life. Our own Marc Hulet ranked him as the 11th-best prospect in Cleveland’s system last year, and left him out of the top 15 entirely this year. There are plenty of very good reasons for this exclusion, starting with the fact that Aguilar is a bat-only prospect; he has well below-average speed and doesn’t have much of anything to offer defensively.

Furthermore, the 23-year-old’s one plus tool, his power, has mostly been of the five o’clock variety throughout his minor-league career. Listed at 6’3″, 250 pounds (I’d bet my life savings on the over regarding his listed weight), he puts on one hell of a show in batting practice, hitting the ball out of the park to all fields. However, following his 23 homers in A-ball back in 2011, he hit just 15 dingers between High-A and Double-A in 2012, and 16 last year in Double-A.

This year has been a different story. Aguilar is off to a blazing hot start in Triple-A, posting a .393/.464/.721 slash line through his first 17 games, along with five homers and five doubles. His line-drive rate is an eye-popping 26.5%. It’s certainly a small sample, but Aguilar is tearing the cover off the ball right now, to a degree that he hasn’t really shown before.

Aguilar hits lefties (.289/.375/.486 career) and righties (.281/.358/.469) roughly equally, but it’s the big-league club’s complete inability to hit left-handed pitching that creates an immediate need for his bat in the majors. As a team, Cleveland is hitting a disastrous .216/.295/.333 against southpaws.

It appears that the Indians are already looking for ways to get Aguilar’s bat in the major-league lineup, as they’re even giving him playing time at third base in Columbus. Simply clicking on that link and looking at the picture tells you why I’m not expecting that to work out, but it certainly shows that the organization is leaving no stone unturned regarding finding at-bats for Aguilar in the majors.

Even if he can’t play third, I really don’t think it’ll be that hard for the Indians to find playing time for Aguilar; he can play first base, shifting Nick Swisher to the outfield, or they could just stick him in the DH slot and let him simply worry about hitting. The ability to spell Carlos Santana at third from time to time would just be an added bonus.

I’d be surprised if Aguilar doesn’t get called up in the very near-future, as that move would directly address a pressing need at the big-league level. Furthermore, he’s already on the 40-man roster, so bringing him to the majors shouldn’t cause much of a transactional headache.

For fantasy players in need of a power bat, Aguilar is a good gamble to take. In addition to the power, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him post a solid average in the .270 range, as his strikeout rate has been consistently dropping as he has ascended through the minors (24.2% in 2011, 22.5% in 2012, 18.9% in 2013, 17.4% this year).

Aguilar’s name might not be featured on many top prospect lists, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be valuable in fantasy, seeing as he is an extremely large human being who hits baseballs very hard. Get on board now, before he starts generating significant buzz in fantasy circles.


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Scott Strandberg has written for RotoGraphs since 2013. He is a film critic and entertainment writer for The Norman Transcript newspaper, and the co-founder of RosterResource Wrestling. Scott is also the bassist for North Meets South. Follow him on Twitter @ScottStrandberg.

13 Responses to “Jesus Aguilar: Crushing In Columbus”

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  1. kgizzle4081 says:

    figures that he is not in yahoo’s player pool. Want to add him in my dynasty.

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    • Wow, you’re right. When I wrote about Roenis Elias three weeks ago, several readers told me that he wasn’t in ESPN’s player pool…on the day of his first major-league start. Get it together, major fantasy sites!

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  2. PBMax says:

    did not know of him. Thanks for the tip!

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  3. Tom says:

    He seems like the prototypical AAAA masher. When I have seen him play he struggled an offspeed stuff. At the ML level, he could get eaten alive. He reminds me of a fat Pedro Cerrano.

    Add him but also bring a bucket of KFC….

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  4. jjelak says:

    /thanks for the great report. He’s my FAAB target this week in an AL Only roto league.

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  5. Adam says:

    One very important thing to note about Aguilar is that his home stadium is a bandbox, and Progressive Field is not. The stadium in Columbus is known to inflate power numbers, especially for righties (see: Matt LaPorta). Aguilar has only played in 6 road games, but in those games he’s hitting a pedestrian .261 with 0 HR and 1 2B.

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    • Robert Hombre says:

      I’m not sure if this is a situation where home/away splits are wholly appropriate. I think we might just want to look at the numbers, adjust them for home park effect and the fact that he’s in AAA, and then just leave those adjusted numbers at that.

      I don’t know when Home/Road splits say something useful about batting average or power. Twice as long as it takes for gross totals to say something useful. We’re not even near the point where gross totals can say anything useful, much less Home/Away splits.

      Still, his swing should probably be taken with due skepticism, as well as his power numbers; still, given that contact was by far his biggest question mark offensively, it’s encouraging to see.

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    • It’s certainly a fair point, but a 26.5% line-drive rate plays in any park.

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  6. Bill says:

    He also hit .327 with 18 homers and 50 RBI in only 58 games in Venezuala over the Winter, bandbox or not…that’s pretty good.

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  7. Adam says:

    I agree it’s encouraging, but the power numbers in that stadium are always inflated. I know the sample size is too small to nitpick about, but for somebody who might consider adding Aguilar to their fantasy roster I just don’t know how much stock should be put into his 2014 numbers overall. I’ve seen him quite a bit, and if I were a betting man, I’d take his AA numbers from last year, adjust for the fact that they came in AA, and use that as a projection because Akron’s stadium plays a lot closer to Progressive Field than Columbus does.

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  8. jim says:

    adam is right on. aguilar, at this point, is a home field creation that won’t translate to the majors.

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  9. Brian says:

    Jose Ramirez also has 4 HR’s already this year. Home park plays a major factor in Aguilar’s success. Line drive rate is encouraging, but there is a reason he has not cracked many top 10 lists. As an Indians fan, I’m hoping for him to be successful, but I am not getting my hopes up.

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    • Oh I agree, he’s far from a sure thing, and the home park argument is certainly valid. However, I think it’s totally fair to be optimistic as well. You say you’re an Indians fan, so you’re probably less interested in the fantasy implications here, but as a fan of the team, I would be quite optimistic about calling up someone who can actually hit lefties. As far as long-term potential, I think he could profile as a taller, right-handed version of Matt Stairs. That has value, especially in the AL.

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