Braves' Acuna Is Not Shy About Challenges
ATLANTA—The Braves have not hesitated to challenge Ronald Acuna, and the 18-year-old Venezuelan outfielder has not been shy about accepting every challenge.
Signed in 2014 for $100,000, Acuna showed such an advanced feel for the game during his first minor league camp that the Braves began him in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League instead of the Dominican Summer League in 2015.
Acuna earned an in-season promotion to Rookie-level Danville and hit .269/.380/.438 with 16 steals in 55 games at the two levels.
He made yet another seamless move by opening this season at low Class A Rome. Through his first 17 games, the 6-foot, 180-pound Acuna hit .299/.373/.358 while flashing impressive tools across the board.
"Ronald has outstanding bat speed, and he hits the fastball to all fields,” director of player development Dave Trembley said. "He’ll get bigger and stronger, and he’s going to be a good player.”
Acuna began playing the game at the age of 3 and has wanted to play professionally for as long as he can remember. Unlike many young Latin American players, he advanced rapidly to the U.S. and had little difficulty adjusting.
"A lot of people helped me (adjust to the U.S.),” Acuna said through an translator, "and I was doing what I always wanted to do. It’s been fun and I feel good.”
Acuna possesses solid-average speed with good instincts on the basepaths, and the center fielder takes excellent routes on balls hit to the gaps. While he employs an aggressive approach, the righthanded batter has impressive plate discipline for a young player.
"I need to be more consistent with my approach, because the pitching and the competition is better,” Acuna said. "I also have to be more patient at the plate in order to hit my pitches instead of the pitcher’s pitches.”
• The Braves promoted righthander Lucas Sims to Triple-A Gwinnett after he went 0-2, 1.84 in three starts at Double-A Mississippi, striking out 26 and walking 10 in 15 innings. The 2012 first-round pick allowed two earned runs and three hits over five innings at Columbus in his Triple-A debut.
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• Rome righthander Touki Toussaint continues to struggle to throw strikes, and he gets hit when his offerings cross the plate. He ran up a 12.66 ERA through three starts, with just five strikeouts to go with 19 hits and nine walks in 11 innings.