The Major League season started just a short time ago and the minor league seasons a few days after that, but there are still some things worthy of note. The Indians number one power prospect, Jesus Aguilar has been one of those things. He has been the lone bright spot on a 3-7 Clippers team that is already 5.5 games back from the division lead. In general, the Indians minor league system is currently focused on speedy fielders and hard throwing pitchers and Aguilar is one player to break that mold.
Aguilar has been among the leaders in home runs in the Indians farm system for the past three years, hitting 23 in 2011 (with Lake County and Kinston), 15 in 2012 (with Carolina and Akron) and 16 last season in Akron. He has already started off 2014 where he left off. Through ten games, he is responsible for 13 of the Clippers 38 runs, leading the offense from the clean-up spot. In addition to leading the team in batting with a .417 average he is fourth in the International League as a whole. He also leads the team in every other rate stat (.488 OBP, .788 SLG), RBI (8), home runs (3), runs scored (8), hits (15), doubles (4) and total bases (28). He ranks among league leaders in home runs (5th), total bases (5th), RBI (10th), doubles (7th) and slugging percent (3rd). For his effort he won the minor league player of the week award for the first week of the season.
Aguilar worried some people this Spring, making them wonder if he could even make it at the AAA level, let alone in the pros. He was given a lot of playing time early in Spring Training as a member of the Major League camp and showed none of the offensive prowess he has in the first weeks of the AAA season. Nick Swisher decided he needed to start playing in Spring Training games later than normal, so Aguilar was his obvious replacement. Because of this, he played in almost every game the first week, eventually getting into 11 Major League games. In those 15 at bats, Aguilar went hitless, although he did walk six times, giving him a respectable .286 OBP considering his .000 average.
While he may have gotten off to a slow start, Aguilar has completely turned things around. Despite never getting an at bat as high as AAA prior to this season, he is now dominating, among the best power prospects in all of baseball. Aguilar’s best game so far was a two home run, five RBI slugfest against the Louisville Bats (affiliate of the Reds), but he has been consistent in addition to this burst of power. He has hits in each game, but one and two hits in six different games. Because one month’s stats are not very substantial, we will have to wait to see if this trend continues, but things have started about as well as possible.
While Aguilar was generally discussed during Spring Training as a possible September call-up this year, his hot streak could put him on a much quicker path. The Indians don’t really have a DH right now with the role rotating between Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall and Yan Gomes for the most part. While all three are solid hitters, none have the power potential of Aguilar. The Indians have just 11 home runs this season in their first 13 games and no player has more than Aguilar does for the Clippers. If the Indians offensive woes continue, Aguilar and his powerful bat will keep looking more and more attractive. Now, instead of being a September call-up, Aguilar looks like he could be called up right now and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he is the starting DH before the 2014 season is over.