MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Our long national nightmare is over. The Braves have called up super prospect Ronald Acuna.
We had to wait until Acuna got hot in Triple-A Gwinnett. Well, in the last eight games, Acuna has 11 hits in his last 33 at bats, including a 2-for-4 game Tuesday night. Couple that with the .192 batting average of Preston Tucker in his last 17 games, and we have the perfect excuse to get Acuna to the big leagues.
Oh, it didn’t hurt to have the Braves lose two games to the Reds, who are the worst team in baseball. Even though the Braves have scored 11 runs in those two losses, they may have needed a little spark. We must remember that Acuna is only 20 years old. He’s going to have his struggles, just like all rookies. We’re going to see him have games where we might wonder if he should be in the big leagues. But this kid is a legit five-tool talent. He can do it all.
The Braves haven’t had a prospect like this since Andruw Jones, who is the player that Acuna is often compared to. Like Jones, Acuna has great power, great hitting ability, he can run, throw and field. He’s been hyped a great deal, and from all indications this kid is worth the hype. Even if Acuna struggles some at the plate, he’s going to make the outfield defense so much better. Having him in left field, alongside center fielder Ender Inciarte, will give Atlanta one of the best outfield defenses in the sport.
But, what is Acuna going to do at the plate? We can assume at the beginning of his career Acuna will bat a bit lower in the lineup, but the intrigue will begin once he proves he can hit at the big-league level. Then, where will manager Brian Snitker have Acuna in the heart of the order?
Before his two-home run game Tuesday night, Freddie Freeman had just two home runs in his first 96 plate appearances. It is obvious Freeman needs a power bat behind him in the lineup. That’s why the Braves are going to bring veteran Jose Bautista to the big leagues, as well, to hopefully give Freeman some protection in the lineup. Acuna might provide it, too. When this kid gets a pitch in his wheelhouse, he can do serious damage at the plate.
Prospects can hit or miss. We saw Jason Heyward hit a home run in his first major league at bat, which made us all believe he was the next Dave Parker. Well, he’s not. We thought Jeff Francoeur was the next Dale Murphy. Well, he wasn’t. But Ronald Acuna is a special talent. I watched him a lot in spring training, and the game just comes easy to him. We knew all along the Braves’ roster would improve during the season.
Acuna is the first major prospect to come up, but there will be more like starting pitcher Mike Soroka and perhaps even third baseman Austin Riley. These are the things we’ve been waiting for in this difficult rebuild the team has been going through the last three years.
The Braves have had a very good start to this season, surprising many, but they are about to get better. So, enjoy watching this kid play. Remember he is only 20. And let’s watch and see if the Braves can truly become a winning team with this better roster.