Some fans may not like it, but it's looking more and more like Aristides Aquino will be part of the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. The Punisher hasn't done anything spectacular this spring to warrant a spot on the 28-man roster, but the way things are unfolding should give Aquino one last opportunity to prove his worth.
Look, I'm as disappointed as you that the 27-year-old has never realized his full potential. After breaking onto the scene the way he did in August of 2019, I think Reds Country assumed that Aquino would be the next big thing in Major League Baseball.
Aquino turned baseball stadiums into his playground. Who will soon forget his three-home run performance against the Chicago Cubs on August 10, 2019 that left teammates Eugenio Suárez, Phillip Ervin, and Jesse Winker dumbfounded? Aquino hit seven home runs in his first 10 games as a major leaguer.
Don't forget the power that Aristides Aquino brings to the Reds lineup.
So while we've seen a lot of swings and misses of late from Aristides Aquino, please don't forget the type of power that he has in that bat. I don't know that there's anyone in the Cincinnati Reds organization that has more power than Aquino.
But, he's got to figure out a way to make contact. Last year, in a reserve role, Aquino made 204 plate appearances and struck out 75 times. Ouch! The Punisher did rack up 10 round trippers and posted a .707 OPS despite a .190 batting average and an on-base percentage below .300. That just shows you how much power Aquino has. But a 36.8% strikeout-rate is not going to cut it.
The Cincinnati Reds are woefully short on right-handed bats, especially right-handed power bats. After losing Nick Castellanos during free agency and dealing Eugenio Suárez to the Seattle Mariners, Jonathan India (.459) now has the highest slugging percentage among returning Reds players.
Yes, the Reds did go out an sign Tommy Pham to a one-year deal, but his .383 slugging percentage last season is less than inspiring. With Donovan Solano and Jose Barrero set to open the season on the Injured List, it would appear that Aristides Aquino will receive one last chance to make an impression.
You don't have to squint very hard to see Aquino serving as the Cincinnati Reds designated hitter or right fielder when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound for the opposing team. In fact, with Max Fried set to take the ball for the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day, don't be surprised to see The Punisher in the lineup on April 7th.
With no minor league options remaining, the Cincinnati Reds stand to lose Aquino to another club if he's designated for assignment. With Aquino having not yet reach arbitration, another team is bound to take the risk, hoping that regular playing time and a change of scenery will help the Dominican return to being The Punisher. I don't think the Reds are ready to cut ties just yet.