Listen to the content of this post:
The Braves are bringing up Austin Riley. He’s a third baseman, but with the injury Tuesday night to Ender Inciarte it’s likely Riley will play left field. Ronald Acuna will slide over to center field and Riley will play left, a position he’s played some this season in Triple-A Gwinnett. He can also fill in for Josh Donaldson, since it’s obvious the player making $23 million dollars cannot play day games after a night game. Riley is a power hitter, and he has been on a tear in Triple-A. The Braves wanted Riley to go back down to the minor leagues to show them he was ready for the big leagues, and he did just that. Riley – who had a grand slam Tuesday night in perhaps his last minor league game – was hitting .299 with 15 home runs and 39 RBI in 144 at bats. In the last 18 games, Riley had hit .391 with 13 home runs, and his on base percentage was .475. How about in the month of May? Riley hit .360 with 10 home runs in 50 at bats. — This kid was a high school pitcher. Former Braves scouting directors Brian Bridges and Roy Clark thought Riley could hit. They could see a few years down the road and could see him as a power-hitting third baseman. They got texts when they drafted Riley and announced him as a third baseman mocking their selection. But they got it right. Scouting is not a perfect science, but it’s always important to trust scouts. They do occasionally get it right. — Unfortunately, Alex Anthopoulos fired Bridges and Clark a few months ago, but we can still thank them for what they did to secure so much talent. Riley is obviously ready. He’s proven that in the last few weeks. It is unfortunate that he’s blocked at his real position of third base, but we’ve seen players have to move to left field before. Remember, before he locked himself in at third base, Chipper Jones was going to play left field in 1994. Ron Gant had gotten hurt and was released and Chipper was going to be the starter in left – and then he tore his knee in spring training. Ryne Klesko, who now lives in middle Georgia by the way, was a first baseman who had to start out in left field. So, we’ve seen this done before. But here’s hoping Riley will do well enough for the rest of this season to prove to Anthopoulos that he needs to be the third baseman moving forward. Signing Donaldson was a mistake – especially for $23 million dollars – and especially since not one relief pitcher was signed after that move. They could have instead invested in the bullpen and been patient, waiting for Riley to come up. By the way, Riley is not the last prospect we will see from the rebuild. There are two more outfielders in Double-A who will be up later this year or next season. – The expectations will be high for Riley, but let’s remember that not all prospects can be as successful as Ronald Acuna was when he came up last year. Some will struggle. Some will take time. But Riley is a great prospect who is ready, and hopefully he can also provide a spark for this Braves team that needs it, especially with the $23-million-dollar man hitting only .254 this season.