Atlanta Braves Top Prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. to Make Debut

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TAMPA, FL - MARCH 02: Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna (82) hits a home run during the MLB Spring training game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees on March 02, 2018 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by /Icon Sportswire)

The time has come for the Atlanta Braves to promote top prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. Widely regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Acuna has put his opening season slump behind him and will join the big league team for Wednesday’s action against the Cincinnati Reds. The Braves posted the announcement on Twitter. The team also announced he will play LF and bat sixth in the lineup.

Acuna posted an impressive 2017 season as he progressed quickly through Atlanta’s system. There was widespread speculation that Acuna may begin 2018 on the Braves Opening Day roster after a strong Spring Training. Unfortunately for fans, he was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett to start but is now headed to the big league club.

Atlanta Braves Top Prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. to Debut

Acuna really began his ascent through Atlanta’s system as a part of Single-A Rome’s South Atlantic League Championship team in 2016. In 40 games with Rome, Acuna slashed .311/.387/.432 with four home runs, 14 steals, and 27 runs scored. Though the power was not abundantly evident yet, the potential was beginning to show through while also providing impressive defense in the outfield.

Breakout Season

Entering the 2017 season, Acuna was assigned to Advanced-A Florida where he did not stay long. He appeared in 28 games for the Fire Frogs and hit three home runs, five triples, three doubles, and scored 21 runs. After impressing in Florida, Acuna was promoted to Double-A Mississippi where his numbers actually improved. He slashed .326/.374/.520 with nine home runs, 14 doubles, 29 runs scored, and 30 RBI over 57 games. Impressed once again by his growth and performance, Atlanta decided on another promotion, this time to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Remarkably, Acuna was able to improve his numbers with every promotion in 2017. After arriving in Gwinnett, Acuna slashed .344/.393/.548 in 54 games. He hit nine home runs and 14 doubles with 38 runs scored and 33 RBI. His performance was so strong that many wondered if the Braves would send him to Atlanta as a September call up. Management decided against a late promotion and instead let him finish out the year with Gwinnett.

Start to 2018

Acuna did struggle in Gwinnett at the start of this season after an impressive Spring Training. He is slashing .232/.321/.304 on the young season but has come on strong as of late. Acuna is 11-for-33 over his last eight games with a home run, a double, and three steals. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games and looks more than ready for the opportunity.

Comparison

It is not always fair to compare young prospects to players of the past, but Acuna has been consistently compared to former Braves CF Andruw Jones for quite some time. In all honesty, it is a fairly strong comparison. Like Jones, Acuna possesses a powerful bat, elite speed, and strong defense. Fans will have to wait and see if Acuna can produce the same sort of power and defense that Jones displayed (434 career home runs, 10 Gold Gloves). However, Acuna certainly possesses the talent to turn into a perennial all-star and franchise cornerstone. All eyes will definitely be on the young OF when he takes the field in Cincinnati.

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