Aquino is 0-for-14 with six strikeouts and a walk so far this spring. He could begin the year at Triple-A Louisville to get regular at-bats, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic suggests. This seems like a logical path for Aquino, who struggled in September after a dazzling debut in August last year. What might change that projection is if Nick Senzel or another outfielder needs to begin the season on the IL.
Aquino enters spring training without a guaranteed roster spot, and could begin the season in the minors, given that he has options remaining, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. "I think they were more focused on not letting him beat them. I think they just pitched him tougher," Reds manager David Bell said. After Aquino's monster August, he really struggled in September, posting a .619 OPS while chasing many more breaking pitches out of the zone. He had a 30.9 K% in September after only striking out 22.6% of the time in August. With the Reds adding Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama to the outfield, Aquino has to beat out Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker for a starting spot, and would otherwise be better suited to playing in the minors every day than sitting on the bench - at least from the Reds perspective.
With the Reds signing Nick Castellanos, Aquino's role is likely to be reduced, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer speculates. That might have been true even without the Reds signing Castellanos. The Reds have a multiplicity of alternatives in the outfield -- Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama and Nick Senzel are the most likely starters, but Aquino, Jesse Winker and even Philip Ervin or Travis Jankowski could factor in as well. A trade to improve the Reds at shortstop or catcher could still be in the offing, but that's far from guaranteed.
Aquino went 1-for-2 with a solo home run and two walks during a 3-1 victory against the Pirates on Sunday. The 25-year-old finished his first taste of the major leagues on a high note with his 19th homer in just 205 at-bats Sunday. Aquino struck out quite a bit and didn't post a very good on-base percentage (.316) in his 56 games, but his two walks Sunday are an encouraging sign. His .317 ISO will also make him an intriguing draft option for owners next spring. Aquino hit .259 with 47 RBI, 31 runs and seven steals in only 225 plate appearances.
Aquino went 3-for-5 with a solo home run and stolen base in a 5-3 loss against the Brewers on Thursday. The rookie continues to put up sensational numbers, displaying both power and speed. Aquino has 25 extra-base hits and is 7-for-7 in stolen bases in just 53 games. He doesn't walk a lot and could stand to hit for a higher average, but he owns a .216 ISO, giving him nearly a .900 OPS, and his average rose nine points with three hits Thursday. He is batting .264 with 18 home runs, 46 RBI and 30 runs in 193 at-bats.