'That was amazing': Aristides Aquino adds another incredible throw to highlight reel

PHILADELPHIA – Cincinnati Reds reliever Reiver Sanmartin saw the ball headed toward the top of the right-field wall on Wednesday and instinctually he started jogging to third base to back up any potential throw to the bag.

Sanmartin figured Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins would score easily on J.T. Realmuto’s double in the seventh inning and he needed to be ready in case Realmuto was thinking triple. Then Sanmartin saw Aristides Aquino grab the ball and wind up toward the plate, and the pitcher reversed his direction to back up the plate.

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Aquino, who attempted a leaping grab with his back against the wall, took six steps to run after the ball, scooped it with his glove and transferred it to his right hand at the same time Hoskins rounded third base. Aquino’s one-hop throw beat a sprinting Hoskins to the plate by about 10 feet.

It was logged into the box score as Aquino’s National League-leading 10th outfield assist this season, the sixth runner he’s thrown out at the plate, but this one was special.

“It was (bleeping) unbelievable, bro,” Sanmartin said. “He’s incredible. He makes every throw. That’s two times he’s saved me. That’s incredible.”

Aquino laughed as he jogged off the field after he heard something from center fielder TJ Friedl. It was the second time he’s thrown out Hoskins in the last 10 days, the other time a majestic throw off his back leg to first base after he made a running catch in front of the warning track.

Statcast measured Aquino’s throw Wednesday at 99 mph, his fourth-fastest throw of the season.

“That was amazing,” Reds Manager David Bell said. “That was an unbelievable throw. It really and truly was one of the best plays I think I’ve ever seen.”

It wasn’t a case of the Phillies underestimating Aquino’s arm. He was running after a ball that hit the wall as Hoskins began approaching third base. Aquino might be one of the only players who even has a chance of turning that throw into an out.

Aquino wasn’t tall enough to make the leaping grab at the wall, and once he saw the ball rolling in front of him, he said the one thought in his mind was make a strong throw to the plate.

“If you see me throwing the ball, it’s because I think I have a chance,” said Aquino, who is valued at 14 defensive runs saved in right field by The Fielding Bible, a top source for defensive fielding metrics.

Donovan Solano, who started at first base for the first time in his career Wednesday, was about 40 feet from the plate when he dodged Aquino’s throw as it bounced to the plate. He wanted to give himself as much time as possible to cut the ball in case Hoskins retreated to third.

“Aquino told me today, ‘Why are you so close to the catcher?’” Solano said Thursday afternoon. “I’m like, ‘You’ve got a cannon, bro. I can’t relay you close to the bag. Where do I need to go?’ Really, I didn’t expect he was going to throw it that perfectly and that hard. That impressed me. Wow. One bounce from almost the wall, warning track.”

Catcher Austin Romine positioned his body toward right field to receive the throw from Aquino, so he couldn’t see Hoskins running down the third-base line with the ball on the way. In those cases, he relies on his internal clock.

“I don’t think anybody thought it was going to be like that,” said Romine, who tagged Hoskins a couple of times after Hoskins attempted a swim move on his late slide. “When I went back to tag, he wasn’t even there yet. That just shows you how fast the ball got to home plate.”

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) catches a fly ball in the first inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Aristides Aquino (44) catches a fly ball in the first inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

There are a lot of obvious traits to Aquino’s highlight throws. He clearly possesses a strong arm when he’s capable of reaching above 100 mph. He doesn’t need much of a wind-up once he scoops the ball, so he can let it fly quickly. His six outfield assists at the plate show he’s accurate.

What stands out most to catchers is how straight the ball flies. Some throws from the outfield can tail or kick away when it bounces. Aquino’s ball is completely straight.

“He’s some of the truest four-seam spin I’ve ever seen,” Romine said. “It’s unbelievable he gets so much spin on it. It makes it really easy to do my job at catching and tagging people.”

Aquino’s teammates were unsure whether it was his best throw of the season. The throw off his back leg to toss out Hoskins at first base last week was impressive. Solano called Wednesday’s play his best throw because he loved his view of it.

Nobody questioned the decision to send Hoskins, but everybody knew he’d be out as soon as Aquino let it fly.

“What a great play,” Bell said, pausing. “Man.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Aristides Aquino defense shines against Phillies with highlight throw