Jesus Aguilar seems to be a perfect fit for the Cleveland Indians, as far as the team’s biggest needs go.
Aguilar is a first baseman who has played third base in the past. Along with outfield, those two spots just happen to be positions the Tribe is currently in the market to fill.
Cleveland could also use a right-handed hitter with some pop in his bat. Aguilar would seem to fit that need as well, at least as far as his time in Triple-A Columbus would indicate over the last two seasons.
So, to go down the list, Aguilar can play first base and third base and can hit with power. It would seem he should walk into April as a member of the Indians’ 2016 Opening Day roster. It would seem he ought to be in the middle of the lineup, where incumbent first baseman Carlos Santana struggled so mightily for most of the 2015 campaign.
How things seem and how they are, however, are two totally different things. In a small sample size, Aguilar has had some issues adjusting to Major League pitching in his brief stints in Cleveland over the past two seasons. He also needs to get better at hitting breaking pitches.
Between 2014 and 2015, Aguilar has had 52 at bats. That is minimal, to be sure. However, the power he has been known for with the Clippers has not shown up with the Tribe. He has yet to hit his first Major League home run, despite blasting 19 of them in each of his last two campaigns with Columbus.
An RBI machine with the Clippers, with 77 of them in 2014 and 93 this past season, Aguilar has but five in his visits to Cleveland.
It is hard to say that Aguilar has ever gotten an extended big league look. In 2014, the Indians gave him 19 games and 33 at bats. It was a forgettable first go-round, as he batted just .121 with four hits – all singles.
Needless to say, that initial tour of the Majors pretty much left Aguilar off of the Tribe’s 2015 radar completely. He only play seven games this past year, but was much more productive, collecting six hits in 19 at bats for a solid .316 average in the small sample. He even got his first extra base hit in the form of a double.
Aguilar still seems to have a long way to go to really be trusted by the organization when it comes to playing him at the game’s highest level. However, he may deserve the chance in 2016.
At just 25 years old, Aguilar is still pretty young. He is a couple years away from hitting what should be his prime years. That means next season could well be a breakout one for him if he gets the chance to play more in Cleveland than he has in previous seasons.
Aguilar is playing winter ball and will hopefully fine-tune some of what has plagued him at the plate at the Major League level. If he can go into spring training and hit as he has the past two seasons in Columbus, he stands a decent shot of breaking camp with the Tribe.
Unless Cleveland makes a splashy move at first or third base via the free agent market between now and March, there is not a lot of talent standing in Aguilar’s way when it comes to earning a spot on the roster and perhaps even being a regular.
Confidence that he can hit pitching in the big leagues and consistency will be the two biggest keys for Aguilar.
Aguilar is about as close to a finished product as the Indians have hitting-wise in Triple-A. He has little left to prove in the minors after spending the last two seasons ripping pitching in the bush leagues. Now is the time for Aguilar to take that next step toward regular Major League roster spot.
The Indians may have very well have the exact type of player they are looking for right in their very own farm system. It is up to Aguilar to prove it and make Cleveland management take notice. The Indians have noticed his past Major League struggles. He should now show them something else – perhaps what he has shown the fans in Columbus.
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