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Reds' beloved phenom Aquino fastest to 15 HRs

Outfielder reaches feat in 122 plate appearances, surpassing Hoskins' record (135 PAs) from 2017
@alysonfooter
September 2, 2019

CINCINNATI -- With the August National League Rookie of the Month Award to be announced soon, Aristides Aquino continues to make his case -- and rewrite the record books. The right fielder homered off Phillies left-hander Drew Smyly in the bottom of the second inning at Great American Ball Park

CINCINNATI -- With the August National League Rookie of the Month Award to be announced soon, Aristides Aquino continues to make his case -- and rewrite the record books.

The right fielder homered off Phillies left-hander Drew Smyly in the bottom of the second inning at Great American Ball Park in the Reds’ 7-1 loss to the Phillies on Monday afternoon, becoming the fastest in Major League history to reach the 15-homer mark. Aquino did it in 122 plate appearances, while Phils outfielder Rhys Hoskins did it in 135 plate appearances in 2017.

Box score

It’s not that the Reds have come to expect this from their rookie phenom ... well, actually, maybe they have.

“There's been some laughing,” manager David Bell said, asked about the reaction in the dugout every time Aquino goes yard. “It's fun to watch somebody that we care about and we know. To watch them be that locked in, and just be in the zone ... he enjoys it too, which makes it fun. He's very well-liked, and that's where the laughter and smiles come from.”

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Aquino attributes simple enjoyment of the game as one of his keys to success. He’s always been confident, a trait that’s been on display from the beginning and that he carried over from his days in Triple-A.

What sets Aquino apart from other rookies attempting to plant roots at the Major League level may be his ability to limit the stress and focus on the positives. In a game built largely around failure, even for the best players, this isn’t always easy to do.

“I tried to carry what I did in Triple-A over here,” Aquino said through a team translator. “The main thing is to enjoy the game as much as you can, because if you enjoy the game, good things are going to happen.”

They happened for Aquino on Monday, even amid his team’s somewhat lopsided loss to the Phillies. Aquino's homer off an 85.5 mph cut fastball from Smyly was a no-doubter. It traveled 417 feet to left field, and it left his bat at 110 mph, according to Statcast.

Aquino added a ninth-inning single to cap a two-hit day.

After just one month in the big leagues, Aquino's at-bats have become a must-watch for Reds fans. The rookie finished Monday's Labor Day tilt with the Phillies leading MLB in homers and RBIs since he was promoted on Aug. 1. He was named National League Player of the Week for Aug. 5-11, marking the only time this season a Reds player has earned the honor.

On Saturday, Aquino hit his 14th of the season to set a new NL rookie record for most homers in a month. All that’s left is the August NL Rookie of the Month Award, which is looming.

“We knew he was gifted, but it's really impressive for him to do this the first time in the Major Leagues with kind of a new swing,” Bell says. “It says a lot about what we already know about him. Very intelligent, very strong demeanor, very consistent with his approach. The players on the team love him.”

From the other dugout, Hoskins, who was in Aquino’s position two years ago with 15 homers in record time, was complimentary toward the Reds rookie and his early success.

“He got on first in the last inning and I kind of said, 'Hey, man. Keep going. This is something you're going to remember forever. But keep working,'” Hoskins said. “He said, 'Hey thanks.' It's fun to watch.

“Obviously he's an impressive kid, big dude. He got up on me and I was kind of taken back. But obviously really good bat-to-ball skills. The league figures you out at some point, just like it's happened to everybody else. But I'm excited to see what he does to make the adjustment. Obviously the kid can hit."

The Reds have finally finished a five-games-in-50-hours marathon that included two doubleheaders in two days over the weekend in St. Louis. Their lone win during that stretch occurred in the second game of Sunday’s twin bill, when they beat the Cardinals, 5-3.

Additionally, Monday turned out to be a good-news, bad-news day for the Reds. They were pleased to find out that Eugenio Suárez’s hand is not broken after an MRI came back clean, but they also lost starting pitcher Alex Wood for a spell after discovering he’s experiencing the same back issues that kept him out of action for much of the season.

Right-hander Lucas Sims will start in Wood’s place Tuesday against the Phillies.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.