Rookie sensation Aristides Aquino went 2-for-4 and clobbered a three-run homer to lead the Reds to a 5-0 victory over the Marlins on Wednesday. “The Punisher” snapped a four-game dry spell with a 418-foot laser beam to left field off Marlins’ starter Sandy Alcantara in the opening frame to become the first hitter in major-league history to record 13 home runs in his first 100 plate appearances of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Aquino’s historic home run barrage has tied the National League rookie record for most homers in a month, which was established by Dodgers’ superstar Cody Bellinger, who hit 13 homers back in June 2017. Amazingly, he still has four more games left to go in August, thanks to a double-header against the division-rival Cardinals on Saturday. The unheralded middle-of-the-order masher owns a surreal .315/.382/.783 triple-slash line with 20 runs scored, 13 homers, 29 RBI and two stolen bases in 102 plate appearances since being promoted from Triple-A Louisville on August 1. The 25-year-old outfielder set a franchise record with 28 home runs in 78 games at Triple-A Louisville and is now up to a remarkable 40 round-trippers in 103 games between Triple-A and the major leagues this season.
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The central question for fantasy owners to consider regarding the rookie phenom, who has been one of the most valuable waiver wire pickups of the entire 2019 campaign, is whether can sustain the robust plate skills he’s showcased in his brief exposure at the major-league level and remain a four-category fantasy stud moving forward. The league-wide proliferation in over-the-fence power, dating back to the second-half of the 2015 campaign, has adversely impacted the fantasy value one-dimensional, power-only sluggers more than any other fantasy asset in recent years. Simply put, it’s easier to find low-cost home run production than ever before. Entering Wednesday’s slate of games, an eye-popping 89 hitters have already eclipsed the 20-homer plateau this season. There’s still a full month left in the 2019 campaign. To put that number in context, only 100 hitters accomplished that feat last year. That number seems even crazier when you consider that it’s already 32 hitters more than the entire 2014 campaign. Whether it’s late rounds of a snake draft, low-cost fliers in an auction format, or even replacement-level, widely-available options on the waiver wire once the season starts, there’s no shortage of power these days.
If Aquino’s plate skills collapse or regress over time, causing his strikeout rate to spike as a result, his batting average would plummet fairly quickly. If that happens, there just isn’t a ton to fall back on. That’s the extreme risk in his profile long-term. However, he’s shown no signs of slowing down from a power production standpoint and given his preternatural ability to consistently generate prodigious exit velocity, he profiles as an elite power hitter who should be able to sustain a BABIP significantly higher than league-average moving forward. The over-the-fence power is real and certainly buoys his realistic fantasy floor. If he can sustain a respectable strikeout rate, he has a chance to blossom into an upper-echelon, four-category fantasy stud for years to come.
Keller’s Bizarre Outing
Take a second to ponder just how many baseball games have been played in the modern era, which dates back to 1901. Pirates’ rookie right-hander Mitch Keller managed to record a bizarre final line, which has never been replicated in major-league history, in a loss to the Phillies on Wednesday night. The hard-throwing 23-year-old was lit up for eight runs on 11 hits over four innings. He also struck out eight batters and only issued one walk. According to the invaluable Baseball-Reference Play Index, no pitcher in big-league history has ever recorded that final. It’s the unique combination of whiffs and hard contact that make this start so incredible. There have been a few that come close in the last two decades. Rangers’ righty A.J. Griffin coughed up eight runs over four innings and finished with seven punchouts back in 2016. He’s the most recent example among a select group that includes Zack Greinke (2010), Brad Mills (2009) and John Smoltz (1998) as well. Twins’ veteran right-hander Jake Odorizzi nearly pulled off the feat earlier this year, yielding nine runs, while striking out seven batters over four frames against the Yankees back on July 24. Keller remains one of the most promising pitching prospects in the game, but he’s struggled tremendously in his brief exposure at the major-league level, posting a bloated 8.62 ERA, 1.98 WHIP and 41/12 K/BB across seven starts this season.
Carrasco Slated to Return
Less than two months after revealing publicly that he had been diagnosed with leukemia, Carlos Carrasco will return to the Indians active roster on Sunday. It’s an incredibly inspiring story. The 32-year-old righty will likely operate in a relief role for the Indians, who are currently three and a half games behind the Twins in the American League Central division, but have a firm grasp on a Wild Card spot for the moment. Regardless of the workload he handles, it’s fantastic to see that Carrasco is apparently feeling well enough to pitch at the highest level again.
AL Quick Hits: David Price (wrist) will start on Sunday against the Angels. The 34-year-old left hander missed nearly a month due to a sore left wrist. … Matt Chapman left Wednesday's game against the Royals after being hit in the head by a pitch. … Mike Trout was absent from the Angels’ lineup Wednesday due to a sore right foot. … Max Kepler was scratched from Wednesday's lineup against the White Sox due to soreness in his right knee. … Gio Urshela left Wednesday’s contest against the Mariners with left groin tightness. … Miguel Sano left Wednesday's contest against the White Sox after being hit by a pitch. … Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters that he hopes that Kevin Kiermaier (ribs) will be able to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Astros. … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday that Giancarlo Stanton (knee) is "pretty close" to facing live pitching. … Luis Severino (shoulder) is scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … Dellin Betances (shoulder, lat) threw live batting practice without issue on Wednesday. … Didi Gregorius (shoulder) remained out of the Yankees' starting lineup Wednesday. He hasn’t played since being hit by a pitch in his right shoulder on Sunday. … Andrew Benintendi (side) remained out of the Red Sox’ lineup again on Wednesday. He hasn’t played since Saturday due to discomfort in his left side. … Gerrit Cole struck out 14 batters over 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Rays. He also established a new franchise record with his 15th double-digit strikeout performance of the season. … Xander Bogaerts homered twice to lead the Red Sox to a win over the Rockies … Aaron Judge went 3-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and two RBI in the Yankees' win over the Mariners. … Gary Sanchez launched his 30th round-tripper of the season in that contest. … Francisco Lindor went 3-for-5 with a go-ahead solo homer, a stolen base and a pair of runs scored to lead the Indians past the Tigers. … Jason Kipnis launched a pair of solo homers in that contest. … Aaron Civale tossed seven innings of two-run ball to pick up the win in that one. … Brad Hand fired a perfect ninth inning to collect his 32nd save of the season. … Hunter Dozier went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI to propel the Royals to a win over the Athletics. … Marcus Semien and Mark Canha went deep in the losing effort. … Jonathan Schoop homered twice to lead the Twins over the White Sox. … Athletics placed Khris Davis on the paternity list. … Astros placed Brad Peacock on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder soreness. … Tommy La Stella (leg) will take batting practice on Friday. … According to multiple reports, the Athletics are expected to call up third base prospect Sheldon Neuse from Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday.
NL Quick Hits: Max Muncy left Wednesday's contest against the Padres after being hit by a pitch in the wrist. He’s been diagnosed with a right wrist contusion. … Adam Eaton left Wednesday's game against the Orioles after being hit by a pitch. X-rays came back negative and he’s being considered day-to-day. … Mike Moustakas (hand) remained out of the Brewers' starting lineup Wednesday. He suffered bruising along his left wrist and palm while trying to field a hard grounder at third base on Monday. … Anthony Rizzo (back) remained out of the Cubs' starting lineup Wednesday. He hasn’t played since exiting Saturday’s game due to back tightness … Max Scherzer whiffed eight batters over 4 1/3 frames in a no-decision against the Orioles to eclipse the 200-strikeout plateau for the eighth consecutive season. … Noah Syndergaard was torched for 10 runs - nine earned - over three innings in a loss to the Cubs. … Kyle Schwarber went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI to lead the Cubs past the Mets. … Jeff McNeil went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in the loss. … Keston Hiura went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and three RBI to propel the Brewers’ to a win over the Cardinals. … Jordan Lyles struck out nine batters over 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win in that one. … Josh Hader fired two scoreless frames to record his 26th save of the season. It was his first save since August 5 … Jack Flaherty whiffed seven batters over six innings of three-run ball in the loss. … J.T. Realmuto went 3-for-5 with a solo homer - his 20th long ball of the season - to power the Phillies to a blowout win over the Pirates. … Cesar Hernandez went 3-for-5 with three RBI and Bryce Harper went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and three runs scored in the one-sided affair … Starling Marte went 3-for-4 with a solo homer in the losing effort. … Anthony DeSclafani whiffed eight batters over seven scoreless innings in a win over the Marlins. … Eugenio Suarez swatted his 38th long ball of the season in that one. … Freddie Freeman walloped his 36th homer of the season in the Braves’ lopsided win over the Blue Jays. … Kurt Suzuki went 2-for-4 with a two-run dinger and four RBI to power the Nationals past the Orioles. … Brewers’ starter Adrian Houser, who was pulled from Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals after five innings due to discomfort in his left hip, said he is hopeful that he will make his next start. … Sean Doolittle (knee) threw a 20-pitch simulated inning on Wednesday afternoon. … Marlins placed Jordan Yamamoto on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain. … Chris Archer has begun "throwing like activities," but hasn't begun throwing yet. … Jesse Winker (back) won't return until September. … Ryan Zimmerman (foot) could return to the Nationals' lineup this weekend. … Jed Lowrie played in a rehab game at Triple-A Syracuse for the first time since May 11. He’s been out all season due to knee and calf issues. … Padres claimed Nick Martini off waivers from the Athletics.