Reds: Aristides Aquino gives David Bell a viable 4th outfielder

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 20: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a home run. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 20: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a home run. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Aristides Aquino may only be hitting .241, but the Cincinnati Reds outfielder has a 1.008 OPS as well. Aquino may be the definition of a player who’s at-bats results in the three true outcomes, but the 27-year-old is producing with Nick Castellanos on the mend.

After being hit on the wrist by a pitch last Friday, Castellanos has appeared in just one game and flied out to right field. David Bell was in dire need of a pinch hitter in a close game, and the Cincinnati skipper called upon Castellanos.

Since then, Bell’s put forth two more starting lineups and Castellanos has been conspicuously absent. However, Aquino stepped up in a big way last night, belting a screaming line drive over the wall in left-center field to give the Reds a 3-1 lead. Cincinnati would hang on to win the game by a final score of 4-3.

Aristides Aquino is the Reds most versatile outfielder.

While Nick Senzel may be the most athletic outfielder on this year’s Cincinnati squad, Aristides Aquino is certainly the most versatile. Aquino has played all three outfield positions this season, with nine games in both left and center field and eight game in right field. He’ll get the start in right field on Wednesday versus the New York Mets.

Aquino burst onto the scene following the trade of Yasiel Puig nearly two years ago. The Punisher clobbered home runs for the remainder of the season and looked to  be in-line to be the team’s starting right fielder in 2020.

It just so happened that the Reds were able to sign Nick Castellanos to a four-year contract, and with Jesse Winker’s breakout season, Aquino found himself without a starting position. He hit just .170 in 23 games last season, and looked to be on the fringe of the Opening Day roster this season.

A broken hamate bone cost Aquino a significant amount of time this season, but since his return from the IL, The Punisher has been absolutely crushing the ball. Aquino owns a .648 slugging percentage on the season and has a 152 OPS+. Since his return a little over a month ago, Aquino is slashing .244/.380/.610 with four home runs in 19 games, only 10 of which were starts.

When Nick Castellanos returns from injury, undoubtedly, Aquino will return to his reserve role. That said, being that Tyler Naquin is a left-handed hitter, it’s conceivable that David Bell may employ more a platoon in center field with Aquino and the former Cleveland Indians’ outfielder.

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What does all this mean for Nick Senzel. The former first-round pick is already taking ground balls at shortstop, and a return to the infield seems inevitable. Senzel could be a valuable utility player off the bench and gain a few starts at third base given how poorly Eugenio Suarez has played this season.