Ronald Acuna Shows Superstar Potential

Best Player: OF Ronald Acuna

After playing just 40 games at low Class A Rome in 2016 due to a broken thumb, Acuna made up for lost time by reaching Triple-A Gwinnett in July. The 19-year-old BA Minor League Player of the Year batted .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs and 44 stolen bases across three levels.

Early in the season, Acuna said he hoped to turn in a 20-20 performance. Mission accomplished. In fact, he ranked ninth in the minors in steals. He also placed third in the minors with 291 total bases, tied for 15th with 60 extra-base hits, and tied for 20th with 88 runs scored.

The Venezuela native has emerged as the most promising prospect in the Braves organization since Jason Heyward or Andruw Jones before him. He needs to polish some aspects of his game, such as improving his basestealing efficiency and reducing his strikeout rate, but given the rapid adjustments he has made, Acuna has the skill set to be a superstar.

Best Pitcher: RHP Bryse Wilson

No Braves pitcher was more consistent than the 19-year-old Wilson, a 2016 fourth-rounder out of a North Carolina high school who spent the season at low Class A Rome. He led the organization with a 2.50 ERA (second in the South Atlantic League) and fifth with 139 strikeouts (third in the SAL). He also ranked third in the SAL with a .211 opponent average.

A standout football player in high school, Wilson is an aggressive pitcher who mixes a mid-90s fastball with armside run and a hard mid-80s slider. He worked diligently on improving his changeup with Rome pitching coach Dan Meyer but needs more consistent depth on the pitch.

Yet based on his first full season, Wilson gives the Braves another high-ceiling arm.

Keep An Eye On: LHP Joey Wentz

Other pitchers in the system may receive more hype, but Wentz, a 2016 supplemental first-round pick out of a Kansas high school, proved this season he is the real deal.

The 19-year-old southpaw stands 6-foot-5 and mixes his pitches with aplomb with his easy and repeatable mechanics. His low-90s fastball has good armside run, and he mixes it well with his above-average curveball and changeup, both possessing excellent late break. He went 8-3, 2.60 at Rome and ranked second in the SAL with 152 strikeouts and third with a .209 opponent average.

“Joey had a tremendous season for us and has an extremely bright future,” general manager John Coppolella said. “He’s a terrific athlete with plus stuff across the board, and his makeup is off the charts.”

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