WASHINGTON — The Punisher has punished again.
Aquino’s latest blast came on a mammoth solo shot against Nats reliever Tanner Rainey. With two outs in the top of the eighth inning of Cincy’s 7-4 loss, the 25-year old Dominican native crushed a 98 mph fastball from Rainey and deposited it over the fence in right-center field, 425 feet away.
Nicknamed “The Punisher” by his brother when he was growing up, Aquino — who appeared in one game last season — has been pulverizing baseballs since getting called up on August 1.
In 11 games since his promotion, the 6-foot 4-inch, 220-pound slugger is hitting .429 with eight home runs and 16 RBIs. All eight of his roundtrippers have come in the Reds’ last nine games, and he’s gone yard seven times in his last six contests, a torrid streak that helped earn him National League Player of the Week honors earlier on Monday.
It’s a heady start for a player who was nontendered this past offseason, and who wasn’t considered a highly regarded prospect heading into the 2019 campaign.
“I think it’s the timing,” said Aquino through a translator. “It’s the perfect timing, and God has a plan. I just want to go out there and do the best that I can do.”
So far, Aquino’s best has been better than anything his teammates have witnessed.
“A lot of us say we’ve never seen anything like it, and that would explain it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s never happened before. We’ve been talking about him now, and the great thing is, with the success, just the way he’s handling it, just his maturity level. He’s handled it with a lot of poise, and we believe in him. We believe that he’s going to keep going.”
Prior to getting called up, Aquino was hitting .299 with 28 homers and 53 RBIs in 78 games with Triple A Louisville. Previously, four hitters shared the record of seven home runs in their first 12 career games. The most recent occurrence was in June of this year, when Houston Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez accomplished the feat.