Don’t look for Ronald Acuna in September. Maybe in April, though

The Next Big Thing. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

I’ve seen Ronald Acuna play. He’s very, very impressive. He’ll be an Atlanta Brave soon. But not, I’m guessing, before 2018.

There’s really no point in a September summons for the Braves’ newly minted No. 1 prospect. He started the season in high Single-A. He’s now in Gwinnett, which is Triple-A. Andruw Jones did the four-levels-in-one-year thing in 1996, and he was 19, same as Acuna.

Here’s the difference. The ’96 Braves were trying to win a second consecutive World Series without the injured David Justice, whose home run in Game 6 had delivered the first title. They needed Andruw Jones, who delivered. (Home run in Game 7 of the NLCS, two in Game 1 of the World Series in Yankee Stadium, the second of which landed near the famed Monument Park.)

The 2017 Braves will not reach the World Series. They’ll do well to win 75 games. Their need for Ronald Acuna will come over the next decade, not the next six weeks. He’s 19. This season has taken him from Kissimmee, Fla., home of the Fire Frogs, to Pearl, Miss., to Lawrenceville. He’ll get to Cobb County soon enough, maybe by opening day in 2018.

Figure either Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis gets traded over the winter. When that happens, it will be to clear a spot for Acuna. There’s a chance the Braves will delay his entry a bit to keep from starting the MLB service-time clock and not render him a Super Two, arbitration-wise, but I’m betting they won’t. You’ll recall that he 2010 Braves didn’t wait for Jason Heyward, who did something notable on opening day.

Might as well say it: Acuna is the biggest talent the Braves have developed since Heyward, who was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Acuna is a legitimate five-tool guy, of which there are few, and his numbers this season have been off the hook. His OPS as a Fire Frog was .814; it was .895 at Double-A Mississippi; it’s 1.0006 at Gwinnett. The higher he has climbed, the better he has hit.

He has played in 125 games and made 553 plate appearances in 2017. Gwinnett’s regular season ends Labor Day, by which time Acuna should be around 140 games and 600 PAs. That’ll do. This summer has seen him ascend from Intriguing Prospect to Next Big Thing. There’s no percentage in bringing him up to take a few at-bats for a team playing out the string.

Let big-league opponents wait until April to start compiling their scouting reports on how to pitch to Acuna, though it’s clear nothing any minor-league entry on three different levels has worked. If you haven’t seen him yet, I’m sorry. (Still time to make the trek to Coolray Field, though.) But this prediction I’ll make: When you do see him, you’ll go, “Wow.”

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20 comments
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TideDawg
TideDawg

Why not go after Stanton.....if you think you can outbid the Yankees. I think I've figured out how pitchers can keep Stanton from beating them. First, don't put any runners on in front of him. Second, if you do have runners on....walk him and take your chances with the next hitter. Embarrassing, but it worked for Chicago against Mr. Whiskers. If that fails.....try to get traded to the team Stanton signs with this off season. Realistically, every hitter has a weakness(some minor, some major) The problem with Stanton.....if he can reach a pitch with the bat, he can hit it out. Keeping him off balance is the only way to try and keep him in the ballpark. If you're a two pitch pitcher(only one inning relievers survive with only 2 pitches) tell your manager you have a toe ache when you have to pitch against his team.



Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

This appears to be the only blog you can make a comment about the Braves on any AJC Braves story. I guess too many fans with negative comments about the "Braves hope to have one more run in them "story .

MichaelDavis1951
MichaelDavis1951

I'd bring him up now, despite the long term ramifications.  He's earned it.  I also read an article this week, where the largest landowner in the United States is the Liberty Media CEO or owner 2,000,000 acres.  Maybe he can sell a few and give us some money to work with.  

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#41
#41

Give the long suffering fans a break. Bring him up now, please! At least we fans will have a new player to watch while this 2017, 90 loss disaster continues to unfold. Geeezzzz. 

Berserker
Berserker

This article makes no sense. There is no argument against bringing him up now. What is the downside? If you bring him up now, he gets major league experience. He gets his feet wet now, when the team is not in a pennant race. The team can play him everyday, whether he plays well or not. If you call him up on opening day next year, he has to perform right away. If he doesn't, you have the terrible dilemma of keeping him or sending him back down. There is nothing to lose this year, so absolutely no reason to leave him at Gwinnett.

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

@Berserker I agree. Even if the Braves don't want to tip their hand as to who they're going to trade (Kemp or Markakis), Acuna could get a little playing time and a month's worth of exposure to big league life. Swanson was hitting .260 when they called him up from AA; why would they not call up Acuna when he's hitting .350 in AAA?

TideDawg
TideDawg

The way I see the Braves in 2018......Outfield - Acuna, Inciarte, and ???  Infield - Camargo, Swanson, Albies(maybe), Freeman...Pitching - Neuman, Sims, and a bunch of prospects(they will trade for a #1) Catching ???????????????? Flowers is not likely to have another good  year (maybe hit .220) gone, I like Suzuki he will be one of another tandem at catcher. The Braves will not yet be a playoff team but will make life miserable for teams that are. If Snitker is retained( and I think he should be) Washington will leave( he was not hired to coach 3rd base), he's too good to be a base coach. Hopefully Perez and Pendleton will finally get a shot at a manager job.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TideDawg Do you mean Newcomb or is there a prospect named Neuman hiding in the weeds in gwinnett?

tailgating dog
tailgating dog

Acuna will need to keep his current physique to increase his chances of stardom unlike Andrew Jones who decided the Twinkie diet was best for him.

tailgating dog
tailgating dog

Acuna will need to keep his current physique to increase his chances of stardom unlike Andrew Jones who decided the Twinkie diet was best for him.


TideDawg
TideDawg

Acuna has the hand/eye coordination, he has physical ability, and he has pitch recognition........what apparently separates him from the rest of the talent with the same skills, as he moves up the ladder, is his ability to focus. Each time he has moved up a level he's gotten better. He takes nothing for granted, he studies, listens, and attacks. He doesn't move up thinking he's a hot shot talent and all he has to do is swing the bat. This kid knows how to apply his talent to the situation. Pitchers haven't adjusted to him because he adjusts before they do. The Braves may be worried that moving up again, to ML, will break his pattern. They may be right plus they want to preserve his service time. They don't need him now, he can't help this club. If they don't bring him up, let him know why(the truth) don't break his confidence. Right now he is the rarest of rookies because he understands hitting like no one can teach.

ATLFAN44
ATLFAN44

Spoken like a true Liberty Media stock holder

joedavis
joedavis

Decisions, decisions.  Do the Braves trade Nicky Warning Track, or Matt Gimp? Flip a coin.  It'll be great having a five-tool player in the outfield, instead of either of these one-tool guys.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TideDawg @joedavis Kemp has value $43 million over the next two years. This will likely be the factor that keeps Matt in a Braves uniform in 2018.Markakis in the final year of his deal is the easier to trade. Nick will be a good fit back in the AL where he can DH or play the OF. Markakis still a good value without the HR power above average OB% .361 , OPS 762 and will drive in 70-80 runs, maybe more on a good team.