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 started writing for Rotographs in 2013. He works in small business consultation, and he also writes A&E columns for The Norman Transcript newspaper. Scott lives in Seattle, WA.