With the promotions of Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall and the trades of Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, the Indians were widely recognized as having one of the weakest farm systems coming into the season. Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law ranked them at 29. Over at minorleagueball.com, John Sickel’s had them two spots higher, at 27. And at 24, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein was the most optimistic of the bunch.
It’s a weak system destitute of star-quality talent sans last year’s first round pick, Francisco Lindor. Many of the team’s better prospects have more than a few question marks, perhaps none more than Jesus Aguilar, a hulking first baseman with the Carolina Mudcats.Aguilar, 22, has one plus tool: power. And as Goldstein pointed out early this year in his rankings, “there are a lot of questions about what he can do other than hit for power.”
Well, he’s slowly beginning to show other tangible abilities. After showing an average-ish walk rate last season –8.8% – it’s jumped two percentage points thus far, to 10.8%, in a quasi-repeat of High-A (he made 124 plate appearances there in 2011). Aguilar’s also managed to trim his strikeout rate down to a more manageable 21.5%, from 24.2%. His plate discipline is improving.
Overall, he’s hitting .305/.389/.518. His total offensive production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, has been 47% better than the league average, the fifth highest margin in the Carolina League. His Isolated Power, or ISO, is the seventh best in the league, at .213; four of better marks have been posted by older players.
Aguilar’s never going to be a complete player. His foot speed is terrible. His defense at first has a passable ceiling. And he’s not going to continue to hit for higher averages as he moves up the minor league ladder. But he should develop into a 30+ homerun threat if given enough at bats. He’s done enough to earn a promotion to Double-A and will likely be moved in the next month or so.
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