- Rating: 2.67
- Age: 30 (since September)
- 2021 Stats: 9G, 7.0 IP, 6.43 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.429 WHIP, 3:4 K/BB, 78 ERA+
- 2021 Earnings: $58,273 (via Spotrac)
- 2022 Status: First outright assignment to Reno & 2 option years remaining.
Mexican-born Miguel Aguilar makes his debut in the highest Mexican baseball league in 2012, but it isn’t until 2015 that the lefty starts making a name for himself. From 2015 to 2017 he doesn’t punch out that many guys, but has tremendous success keeping hitters off the bases by apparently inducing what seems a great amount of weak contact pitches, especially successful against left-handed hitters.
This success catches the eye of the Arizona Diamondbacks and on November 25, 2016, the pitcher signs a professional contract with the D-Backs, who are represented at that moment by former Diamondback and Mexican Erubiel Durazo.
Aguilar is assigned in 2017 to Visalia Rawhide in High A. Until then the player born in Ciudad Obregón has always faced older competition, but now sees much younger opponents from the mound. Aguilar has very good results from 2017 to 2019 and one can only wonder why the D-Backs didn’t promote him more aggressively through the minor league system given his age and success.
The Diamondbacks are apparently not in a hurry and Aguilar seems ready to make his debut in Triple A in 2020. Aguilar pitches a couple of innings in his second Spring Training until Corona, the disease, shows up and wipes out an entire year of expectations for the Mexican lefty.
Thus Aguilar doesn’t make his debut in AAA until the 2021 season starts. In Reno his hit and homerun rates obviously increase, but the walk and strikeout rates are in line with his minor league career stats and until his call-up Miguel Aguilar sports an impressive 2.90 ERA for Reno, as Jim would write.
For Miguel Aguilar to make his major league debut he depends on a compatriot. It is not until the Diamondbacks deal Mexican reliever Joakim Soria away that they select the contract of Aguilar.
Well, maybe I am romanticising the story a bit too much now, in reality the Diamondbacks are facing a COVID-infection crisis before a series against the Dodgers and thus call up several fresh hands from Triple A, amongst whom Aguilar.
Obviously, his call-up makes national sports headlines in Mexico as he becomes the 139th Mexican to make his major league debut. His call-up, however, comes at a cost: the player will have to miss the Baseball Olympics in Japan for which his country Mexico has qualified: Miguel was on an unofficial list of the Olympics roster.
But, like Aguilar himself would say, debuting in the major leagues is like “a dream come true” and his debut is literally one to remember: he pitches a clean 7th inning with a strike-out in what will end in a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
James Attwood would quote the following in next day’s Snake Bytes:
Most impressively though, was Miguel Aguilar. The Reno Aces COVID call-up was brought in with the Diamondbacks holding a slim lead. The Dodgers had a runner at third and no one out with the heart of the order coming to the plate. That’s a tough damn way to make a big league debut if ever there was one. Aguilar stranded that Dodger evil at third and slammed the door shut on the Dodgers tying the game up. Someone buy that young man a steak and a beer.
The SnakePit definitely agreed if we have to believe GDT #104:
“That slider was filthy” - Michael McDermott
“Wow, where did THAT come from?” - Oldenschoole
“Aguilar with an escape act that would make Houdini jealous” - Michael McDermott
“Excellent work.” - VW Beetle
“That’ll do” - NikT77
“Zach NEEDS to buy Aguilar a big steak dinner at Christopher’s for that.” - Oldenschoole
“Wow! I’m glad that I saw Aguilar’s debut.” - Snake_Bitten
But that video also shows both his strengths and weaknesses.
Aguilar is probably that typical LOOGY. The man has terrific success against left-handed batters, what you could see when Muncy whiffed tremendously at what looked like a slider but was actually graded as a terrific curveball. Lefties were limited to a .368 OPS.
But right-handed batters were not fooled by Aguilar and his pitches were rather ineffective against them, proven by a 1.045 OPS.
The goodwill created by his debut was soon wiped out after Aguilar was tagged with a loss in extra innings against the Giants on August 2, letting 3 runners cross home plate. It would seal his fate of getting reassigned to Reno, something that would happen two more times during the final months of the season.
I agree, 7 innings and 100 pitches can hardly be concluding, but while his curveball was great and his fastball manageable, the slider got absolutely crushed by both left- and right-handed batters with a .600 BA against.
What started so beautifully with a call-up and a 2.90 ERA in Reno ended with a 5.09 ERA in Reno and an outright assignment. Miguel Aguilar was bumped from the roster to make room for one of the 3 prospects the D-Backs added to the 40-man roster to prevent them from being taken in the Rule 5 draft.
Aguilar himself will stay in the organisation unless the Diamondbacks will cut him loose during this off-season, but my guess is the D-Backs will keep him around since he has proven his effectiveness against left-handed batters, even at the highest level, and induces soft contact. Next year will be another lost year for the Diamondbacks so we will probably see Aguilar at the highest level again at one moment.