Looking over the MLB rookie leader lists through seven games, we find Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar off to an excellent start, hitting .438/.500/.500 in his first seven games. Aguilar received little pre-season attention, so let’s remedy that.
Aguilar was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians out of Venezuela back in 2007. His trek through the lower levels of the Indians system took time, but he first emerged as a player to watch by hitting .284/.359/.506 between Low-A and High-A in 2011. He’s been at the Double-A and Triple-A levels for the last four years, hammering upper minors pitching for power but seeing only scattered major league action, 61 at-bats over three seasons.
Here is the report I filed on him in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Cleveland Indians
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 241 DOB: June 30, 1990
Jesus Aguilar continues to mash Triple-A pitching and was especially strong in the second half last year for Columbus, hitting .290/.374/.521. . .he has nothing left to prove in the International League and is entering the typical career peak performance window, but finding a path to a regular major league job is another matter given his defensive limitations and his right/right first base/DH profile. Many similar players get stuck in the upper minors, more-or-less permanently. The lucky ones benefit from well-timed injuries ahead of them and get a clear shot at being a big league role player, or they sometimes make their way to Japan (or Korea, or Mexico) and have star-level success there, or some combination of all those things, and make a decent living that way. It is impossible to know which path Aguilar will take, but in terms of talent he could hit .250-.270 with 15-20 homers if given a chance to play every day. Grade C+.
He hit 30 homers in Triple-A last year but still found himself behind other players on the Cleveland depth chart.
The Brewers claimed him on waivers this past February and he won a job with a monstrous spring training, hitting .452/.521/.855 with seven homers, nine homers, and 14 strikeouts in 62 at-bats. And so far that’s continuing in the regular season.
Despite the shift in opportunity, little has actually changed in Aguilar’s profile over the years: he’s big and strong and the ball jumps off his bat. He is not just a pull hitter, however, showing power to all fields.
His strikeout rates are not overly excessive for a power hitter and his pure hitting skills are probably somewhat under-rated.
Defensively, he lacks the speed and mobility to play an outfield corner and is best-suited to first base. His range is limited but he doesn’t make many errors, and his arm is strong enough that the Indians have given him a few innings at third base now and then.
Aguilar turns 27 in June, making 2017 the stereotypical peak season. No, he’s not going to hit .300 in a full season, but he could very well hit .270 with 20 homers, and that’s a fine thing to pick up on a waiver claim.