GWINNETT, GA. — I did something last night I do not get to do too often. I took my daughter to the Gwinnett Stripers game as a fan. I went to watch Ronald Acuña, Jr. in hopes that it is last time I see him in a minor league uniform. He rewarded us with this:
Acuña just murdered a ball pic.twitter.com/DO7zT88me7— Dalton Mullinax (@daltonmulliwx) April 18, 2018
If you follow along, you know I have seen Acuña, Jr. multiple times, beginning my coverage of him in 2016 back with the South Atlantic League champion Rome Braves. If you want more scouting profiles, I have given them plenty of times before, like HERE and again HERE. There are no more scouting reports necessary. That said, here’s a nice piece of hitting with an opposite-field RBI single from last season with the G-Braves.
Throw away Acuña, Jr.’s .175/.283/.275 slash line. Do not worry about the fact that last night was his first home run of the season. Acuña, Jr. is as ready as he was at the end of last season.
Is Acuña, Jr. perfect? No, but no prospect is. His swing gets big at times, and he sometimes misses his pitch. He will likely strikeout quite a bit in his career, but again, who doesn’t these days? This at bat, for example, is less than ideal, his swing not his best of the night.
But take his leadoff double as a better example. Acuña, Jr. rips it into it and sends it into the gap. He digs in deep into the box, his timing with his inward leg kick is perfect and his bat explodes through the strike zone. When his bat is going, he can hit any pitcher at any level and he has proven that.
He may have been a bit over-aggressive in trying for two but just watching his speed it is clear as to why. If he does not pop up at the end, he is safe with a leadoff double and scores when Johan Camargo rifles one to the same spot a batter later.
Then, of course, came the home run. Unfortunately, my daughter decided it was time to run around the stadium, so we watched the home run travel through the air while we were running through the stands on the third base side. My daughter is two. She looked up and said, ‘WHOA’. Not sure how much more of a scouting report is needed than that.
I’ve watched Acuna, Jr. hit baseballs tonight. It’s a glorious thing. The homer he just launched left the left fielder watching as it careened of the concrete beyond the fence. Braves— Wayne Cavadi (@UofDWayne) April 18, 2018
Acuña, Jr. struck out and then walked and came around to score one more time. From first base. Because he is fast. Because he can consistently get on base. Because Acuña, Jr. has all of the tools to excel in the big leagues. And he will when he finally gets the chance.
I can sit here and tell you my thoughts on Acuña, Jr. still being in Triple-A, but that is old news (seriously, check out our friend Eric Cole’s thoughts over at Talking Chop if you haven’t.) Acuña is striking out a bit too much, he is adjusting to a “new” position, he is not swinging a hot bat, blah blah blah. He also has not been seeing the best pitching as arguably the most feared hitter in the International League.
There were plenty of concerns last year with Ozzie Albies, that he, too, was striking out too much and that he was looking too much into his power (it is recorded that I NEVER was worried about Oz by the way). They waited on him, and now he is on his way to becoming the best second baseman in the league. But that was different. Albies did not have Acuña, Jr.’s 2017 rise. Albies did not spend the bulk of his previous season in Triple-A. He did not win the Arizona Fall League MVP award, nor catch the eye of every baseball fan in his first spring training.
Since Acuna, Jr. Day (April 13) he has raised his average 43 points. He launched his first home run and has walked four times in the past four games. The new Acuña, Jr. Day is imminent. It is the day Braves fans deserve.