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Indians power-hitting prospect Jesus Aguilar is off to a hot start in Columbus

Over the past couple seasons Jesus Aguilar has shown signs that he was developing into a power-hitting prospect, but it wasn't until last winter that he really started to put things together.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Jesus Aguilar has been in the organization since 2008, when the Indians signed him out of Venezuela. He made his full-season debut in 2011 as a 21-year-old, and gained some notice after hitting 23 home runs between Lake County and Kinston, but he wasn't that young for his level, and there were concerns that his bat wouldn't be quick enough at higher levels. Aguilar had a decent year in Carolina as a 22-year-old, then spent all of 2013 With Double-A Akron, where he showed better contact and plate discipline. But as a player who was limited to first base, Aguilar needed to dominate at the plate. If a 1B/DH wants to stick in the majors for long, he can't just be a decent hitter, he has to be a Scary Monster™ at the plate.

After the 2013 season, Aguilar played Winter Ball in Venezuela, and was one of the best hitters there. In 226 At Bats, Aguilar hit .327/.403/.597 with 18 home runs. The Venezuelan Winter League is usually stocked with major-league and top minor-league talent, so his ability to dominate that league despite not having played above the Double-A level before was a pretty big deal. The Indians added him to the 40-man roster this winter, and he was invited to major-league camp this spring. He was then assigned to Columbus, and from his first game there he has been hitting the cover off the ball.

(click to embiggen)


(Source: Baseball-Reference's Jesus Aguilar page)

That's an 1.105 OPS and seven home runs already.

Now, I want to caution everybody from getting too worked up on this early success, because:

1) It's only 22 games

2) Most of that production has come at home

Columbus' home park has quickly become known as a hitters' haven, especially when it comes to home runs. In 2013 Huntington Park had a 1.681 HR Park Factor, a figure that dwarfed that of any other park in the International League.

Aguilar has hit six of his seven 2014 home runs in Columbus, and has hit a ridiculous .423/.474/.846 there (57 PA), while batting a more pedestrian .258/.361/387 on the road (36 PA). Both those lines are based on very small sizes, small enough so that two or three good road games (or poor home games) will erase the sizable split, but it does bear mentioning. Columbus will be on the road the rest of this week, so we'll have a better idea by this time next week whether those splits were just early-season curiosities or indicative of something real.

Here are a few clips showing Aguilar in action this month:

April 24: He hits an opposite-field home run on an outside fastball

April 22: An opposite-field single on an outside fastball

April 19: Opposite-field home run on a fastball out over the plate

April 18: Pulls an inside fastball off the wall in left field for a double

April 8: A fastball outside and up, you can guess what happens next

Based on the video clips above, Aguilar's swing is fairly compact and quick, and even though Huntington Park has a jet stream to right-center that rivals Arlington's, you can see the power in Aguilar's bat. Given the paucity of right-handed hitting in the Indians' lineup right now (especially with Carlos Santana struggling), if Aguilar does in May what he's done in April, the Indians will have to start thinking about finding a spot for him on the 25-man roster.