Despite a couple of anemic offensive seasons in the Arizona League, the Cincinnati Reds organization challenged Argenis Aldazoro with a promotion to the Billings Mustangs, in his age-21 season. All he did was establish himself as one of the elite hitters in the Pioneer League, as he ranked among the league’s top 10 in triples, homers, slugging percentage, and OPS.
Aldazoro started 2014 eerily similar to his previous seasons, as he managed only one hit in his first 20 at-bats. For the month of June, he slashed a paltry .161/.212/.194. Adding to the concern of the Aldazoro’s poor start, were the familiar plate discipline woes, as he posted a 28.6% strikeout rate and walked in only 5.7% of his plate appearances.
The Venezuelan outfielder’s struggles would not last long though. He started to turn things around in July, by hitting .303/.303/.485 over his first nine games, but his plate discipline issues persisted, as he did not draw a walk and fanned in 24.2% of his 33 plate appearances. It was after this stretch though, when Aldazoro really punched the accelerator. He finished the month by hitting safely in nine of his last 11 games, slashing .395/.467/.632, with a 6/2 BB/K ratio, and adding five stolen bases in as many attempts. Aldazoro showed immense improvement in his plate discipline, as he increased his walk rate and cut his K-rate in half in July. He also displayed his power potential, by banging out nine extra base hits and posting a .211 ISO for the month.
As the calendar turned to August, Aldazoro’s bat remained scorching hot. He hit safely in 15 of his first 17 contests in August, including seven multi-hit games, hitting a blistering .338/.348/.585 over this stretch. Although his plate discipline took a step backwards, he continued to increase his power output, smashing four bombs, two doubles, and a triple. After going hitless in the second game of a double header on August 22nd, Aldazoro finished the regular season very strongly, collecting hits in nine of his final 10 games, crushing five long balls, driving in 14 runs, and slashing .405/.422/.905, to help the Mustangs into the playoffs.
The expectations for Argenis Aldazoro were not very high, after a couple subpar seasons apiece in the Venezuelan Summer League and the Arizona League, but the young outfielder took huge strides at the dish in 2014. He was able to cut his strikeout rate and nearly double his walk rate (although it remained very low) from his time in the Arizona League. Aldazoro will look to build on his 2014 season in his first taste of full season ball in Dayton in 2015.
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