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 7-6 loss, the 25-year-old 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 he was called up on Aug. 1.
In 11 games since his promotion, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound slugger is hitting .429 with eight home runs and 16 RBIs. All eight of his home runs have come in the Reds’ past nine games, and he has gone yard seven times in his past six contests, a torrid streak that helped earn him National League Player of the Week honors earlier Monday and tied the Rockies‘ Trevor Story for the most home runs in a six-game span by a rookie in modern MLB history (since 1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It’s a heady start for a player who was non-tendered this past offseason and wasn’t considered a highly regarded prospect heading into the 2019 campaign.
“I think it’s the timing,” Aquino said through an interpreter. “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 being called up, Aquino was hitting .299 with 28 homers and 53 RBIs in 78 games with Triple-A Louisville.