Ronald Acuña Jr.

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Ronald Acuña Jr.
Ronald Acuña Jr. Sept 18, 2018.jpg
Acuña with the Atlanta Braves in 2018
Atlanta Braves – No. 13
Outfielder
Born: (1997-12-18) December 18, 1997 (age 21)
La Guaira, Venezuela
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 25, 2018, for the Atlanta Braves
MLB statistics
(through September 30, 2018)
Batting average.293
Home runs26
Runs batted in64
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Ronald José Acuña Blanco Jr. (born December 18, 1997) is a Venezuelan professional baseball outfielder for the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut in 2018.

Career[edit]

Minor League Baseball[edit]

Acuña signed with the Atlanta Braves for $100,000 as an international free agent in July 2014.[1][2] He made his professional debut in 2015 with the Gulf Coast Braves and was later promoted to the Danville Braves that season. In 55 games between the two teams he batted .269 with four home runs, 18 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.

In 2016, he slashed .312/.392/.429 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in only 42 games combined[3] between the Gulf Coast Braves and Rome Braves due to an injury.[4][5] After the season, he played for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League and was named an ABL All-Star.[6] Acuña made his first appearances in Grapefruit League games at the start of the 2017 season as an extra player originally assigned to minor league camp.[7] He began the year with the Florida Fire Frogs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League and was later promoted to the Mississippi Braves of the Class AA Southern League.[8] Acuña was named to the All-Star Futures Game roster in July, and played the whole game, one of three World Team members to do so.[9] He reported to the Gwinnett Braves of the Class AAA International League immediately after the All-Star break,[10] making his International League debut against the Charlotte Knights, during which he hit an opposite-field home run in his second at bat.[11] For the year, Acuña appeared in 139 games, hitting .325/.374/.522 with 21 homers, 82 RBIs and 44 stolen bases.[12] After the minor league regular season ended, Acuña was assigned to the Peoria Javelinas, an Arizona Fall League team.[13] He played 23 games in the AFL hitting .325/.414/.639 alongside seven home runs, winning the league championship and claiming league MVP honors, becoming the AFL's youngest most valuable player.[12][14]

Baseball America ranked Acuña as the No. 1 Major League Baseball prospect heading into the 2018 season.[15] MLB.com ranked him second to Japanese pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani.[16] Acuña began the year at major league spring training.[17] Despite a .432 average and four home runs in spring training, Acuña was reassigned to minor league camp on March 19, 2018.[18] He reported to the Gwinnett Stripers to begin the 2018 season.[19]

Atlanta Braves[edit]

On April 25, 2018, the Braves promoted Acuña to the major leagues.[20] He became the youngest player in Major League Baseball upon his promotion,[21] claiming the distinction from teammate Ozzie Albies.[22] Though Acuña wore uniform number 24 throughout his minor league career in honor of Miguel Cabrera,[23] he made his major league debut on April 25, 2018, wearing number 13.[24] Against the Cincinnati Reds, Acuña collected his first career hit off of Kevin Shackelford. He finished the game 1 for 5 and scored the game tying run in the eighth inning as the Braves won 5–4.[25] The next day, also against the Reds, Acuña hit his first major league home run off of Homer Bailey. He finished the game 3 for 4 as the Braves won 7–4.[26] On May 28, Acuña was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a mild ACL sprain and a bruise in his left knee as well as back contusion.[27] On June 21, the Braves optioned Acuña to Triple-A Gwinnett for a rehab assignment.[28]

Acuña regularly hit in the leadoff spot in the lineup after the All-Star break.[29] His performance improved markedly as he implemented an adjustment to his batting stance at the suggestion of Kevin Seitzer.[30] While playing against the Miami Marlins on August 13, 2018, Acuña became the fourth player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit a home run to lead off both games of a doubleheader.[31] Additionally, he had hit a home run in his last four games, becoming the youngest player since 1920 to accomplish the feat.[32] By hitting a home run off of Trevor Richards on August 14, Acuña became the youngest major leaguer ever to hit home runs in five consecutive games, as well as the fifth batter in Atlanta Braves history to do so.[33][34] Facing Adam Conley later that same game, Acuña hit his second home run of the night, marking the first time he had ever hit more than one home run in a game.[35]

In the finale of the Braves' series against the Marlins on August 15, Acuña faced José Ureña, who hit him with the first pitch of the game. Ureña was ejected from the game, while Acuña was replaced in the field at the top of the second inning.[36] Acuña played the Braves' next game against the Colorado Rockies on August 16.[37] When Acuña next played the Marlins on August 23, he hit another home run, and was subsequently struck by another pitch.[38] His production during the month of August won him the Major League Baseball Rookie of the Month Award.[39] On September 2, Acuña hit his seventh leadoff home run, tying a Braves team record, set by Marquis Grissom, for such home runs in a season.[40] Three days later, Acuña broke the team's leadoff home run record in a game against the Boston Red Sox.[41] With his 25th home run on September 9, Acuña became the seventh player in MLB history to hit that many home runs while under the age of 21.[42] Later that month, it was announced that Acuña would be playing in the MLB Japan All-Star Series scheduled for November.[43] With his fifteenth stolen base on September 22, 2018, Acuña became the fourth player in MLB history to record a 25–15 season, while aged 20 or below, alongside Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout.[44] Overall with the 2018 Braves, Acuña appeared in 111 MLB games, batting .293 with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs.

On October 7, in a National League Division Series game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Acuña became the youngest player in MLB history to hit a postseason grand slam, aged 20 years 293 days, off Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler.[45][46] On November 12, he was named the National League Rookie of the Year.[47][48]

Personal life[edit]

Acuña's father, Ronald Acuña Sr., and grandfather, Romualdo Blanco, both played minor league baseball.[49] He is the eldest of four sons.[50] A younger brother, Luisangel, is also a baseball player.[51] An uncle, José Escobar, played for the Cleveland Indians in 1991, and several cousins have also played in Major League Baseball, namely Vicente Campos, Alcides Escobar, Edwin Escobar, and Kelvim Escobar.[52]

Acuña received the nickname El Abusador from Starling Marte.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bowman, Mark (December 21, 2016). "Acuna impressing Braves in Australian League". MLB.com. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  2. ^ Ballew, Bill (April 28, 2016). "Braves' Acuna Is Not Shy About Challenges". Baseball America. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  3. ^ "Ronald Acuna Jr. Stats, Highlights, Bio - MiLB.com Stats - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Braves prospect on a tear Down Under". Atlanta Journal Constitution. December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  5. ^ McGuinness, Zack (October 12, 2016). "Aces sign highly rated Braves prospect". MILB.com. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  6. ^ Rosenbaum, Mike (December 16, 2016). "Winter leagues roundup: Acuna, Garrett, Padlo growing Down Under". MLB.com. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  7. ^ Bowman, Mark (March 12, 2017). "Young Acuna raising eyebrows at Braves camp". MLB.com. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Bowman, Mark (July 6, 2017). "Going to Futures Game, Acuna's future bright". MLB.com. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  9. ^ Bell, Mandy (July 9, 2017). "Acuna displays arm, bat strength in Futures". MLB.com. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  10. ^ Bowman, Mark (July 13, 2017). "Fresh off Futures Game, Acuna up to Triple-A". MLB.com. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  11. ^ Rosenbaum, Mike (July 13, 2017). "Acuna makes immediate impact in Triple-A debut". MLB.com. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Boor, William (November 18, 2017). "Acuna caps sensational year with AFL MVP". MLB.com. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  13. ^ Mayo, Jonathan (October 12, 2017). "Braves' Acuna leaves AFL game after HBP". MLB.com. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  14. ^ Boor, William (November 18, 2017). "MVP Acuna, Braves mates propel Peoria to title". MLB.com. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  15. ^ "TOP 100 MLB PROSPECTS 2018". BaseballAmerica.com. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  16. ^ Bowman, Mark (January 28, 2018). "High ranking meaningful to prospect Acuna". MLB.com. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  17. ^ Bowman, Mark (February 2, 2018). "Braves' camp will be loaded with top prospects". MLB.com. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Bowman, Mark. "Ronald Acuna to begin 2018 in Minors". MLB.com. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  19. ^ Bowman, Mark (April 6, 2018). "Acuna's season begins with Gwinnett opener". MLB.com. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Macklin, Oliver (April 25, 2018). "Acuna set for debut, batting sixth vs. Reds". MLB.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  21. ^ Schmetzer, Mark (April 26, 2018). "Ronald Acuna Jr. joins Atlanta Braves as youngest player in majors". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  22. ^ Tucker, Tim (April 25, 2018). "Leadoff: How Braves landed Acuna, Albies and Camargo for a combined $492,000". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Matz, Eddie (April 23, 2018). "Introducing Ronald Acuna, MLB's next superstar". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  24. ^ Wellham, David (April 25, 2018). "Braves-Reds lineup: Will Acuna's jersey number prove to be lucky?". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  25. ^ Macklin, Oliver. "Acuna gets 1st hit, scores key run in Braves' win". MLB.com. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  26. ^ Bowman, Mark (April 26, 2018). "Acuna hits first homer, leads Braves to win". MLB.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  27. ^ "Ronald Acuna Jr. goes on DL with ACL sprain, knee bruise". MLB. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  28. ^ Bowman, Mark (June 22, 2018). "Ronald Acuna to begin rehab assignment at Triple-A". MLB.com. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  29. ^ "Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. youngest ever to homer in 5 straight games". ESPN.com. August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  30. ^ Bowman, Mark (September 21, 2018). "This adjustment made all the difference for Acuna". MLB.com. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  31. ^ Bowman, Mark (August 13, 2018). "Acuna leads off both games of twin bill with HRs". MLB.com. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  32. ^ "Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. leads off both ends of doubleheader with HR". ESPN.com. August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  33. ^ Bowman, Mark (August 14, 2018). "Acuna leads off 3rd straight game with a HR". MLB.com. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  34. ^ Adler, David; Simon, Andrew; Randhawa, Manny (August 14, 2018). "DYK? Acuna's streak puts him in rare company". MLB.com. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  35. ^ Bowman, Mark (August 14, 2018). "Sizzling Acuna makes history in Braves' victory". MLB.com. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  36. ^ Bowman, Mark (August 15, 2018). "Acuna drilled by 1st pitch, benches clear". MLB.com. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  37. ^ Bowman, Mark (August 16, 2018). "Acuna singles in return; Urena suspended". MLB.com. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  38. ^ Goodman, Max (August 23, 2018). "Acuna exacts revenge as Braves blank Marlins". MLB.com. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  39. ^ Kramer, Daniel (September 4, 2018). "Andujar, Acuna the top rookies of August". MLB.com. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  40. ^ Weinrib, Ben (September 2, 2018). "Acuna ties Braves' record for leadoff HRs". MLB.com. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  41. ^ Bowman, Mark (September 5, 2018). "Acuna's 8th leadoff HR sets franchise record". MLB.com. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  42. ^ "Acuna knocks No. 25, joining elite company". MLB.com. September 9, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  43. ^ Thornburg, Chad (September 10, 2018). "Early MLB roster set for All-Star Tour in Japan". MLB.com. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  44. ^ Bowman, Mark (September 22, 2018). "Acuna's 15th SB puts him in elite company". MLB.com. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  45. ^ Sanchez, Jesse (October 8, 2018). "Acuna youngest to hit postseason slam". MLB.com. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  46. ^ Associated Press (October 8, 2018). "Vizcaino, Braves stop Dodgers 6-5, cut NLDS deficit to 2-1". ESPN. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  47. ^ Matz, Eddie (November 12, 2018). "Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. earns NL Rookie of the Year honors". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  48. ^ Bowman, Mark (November 13, 2018). "Acuna's second-half surge nets NL ROY honors". MLB.com. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  49. ^ Boor, William (November 18, 2017). "Acuna feeds off family, flourishes in Fall League". MLB.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  50. ^ Hill, Jordan D. (July 2, 2018). "Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna's brother agrees to a contract with this team". Ledger Enquirer. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  51. ^ Sanchez, Jesse (April 12, 2018). "Familiar names within 2018 international class". MLB.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  52. ^ Thornburg, Chad (April 25, 2018). "5 things you need to know about Acuna". MLB.com. Retrieved April 26, 2018.

External links[edit]