The Legend of Ronald Acuna

Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta (12/18/97)

Acuna is considered by many to be a top 3 prospect in the game, in large part to a monster 2017 campaign that saw him play at High A, AA, and AAA, and getting better at each level.

It’s a Brave New World

Acuna – A+/AA/AAA .325 .374 .522 31 8 21 44 43 144
Jones – A+/AA/AAA .339 .421 .652 27 5 34 30 60 97
Chipper – A .326 .407 .518 24 11 15 40 69 70
Heyward – A+/AA/AAA .322 .406 .553 28 4 17 12 53 52

Acuna stacks up nicely alongside the Braves highest rated hitting prospects.  He has more speed than the Joneses and Heyward.  The biggest take away for me is Acuna’s K/BB ratio.    I don’t believe his swing will translate to a .300 average in the big leagues, however, the most encouraging thing about Acuna’s swing is that he improved his K rate at each level.

I had forgotten how well Heyward played and how highly touted he was.  I can’t say for sure what went wrong with J-Hey, but I can say that what made him special as a 20-year-old in the big leagues was his ability to work the count and draw a walk.  In his age 20 season in Atlanta, he walked 91 times.  In 7 seasons since, his career high is 67.

Andruw Jones had a very productive and very underrated MLB career.  As if his age 19 season wasn’t impressive enough, I left out his MLB stats.  He hit 2 HR in his first 2 World Series at bats and posted a career .823 OPS with 434 HR and a .254 average.  Despite stealing 107 bases in 3 minor league seasons, his speed never translated to the base paths in Atlanta.  He stole 152 bases in his career.

Chipper Jones is the only player listed whose hit tool translated to the big leagues.   His .303/.401/.529 slash line will land him in the Hall of Fame.  Chipper also had an elite eye at the plate.  He walked more than he struck out (1512 BB/1409 K) and never struck out 100 times in a season.

So what can we learn about Acuna, if anything?  I think we can temper our expectations of him hitting .300.   His speed should translate to Atlanta while his power continues to emerge.  He is a legit 30-30 threat but may initially struggle to hit .275+ due to poor BB rate.

When he arrives to Atlanta in 2018, he will give the Braves a 5 tool future star to compliment Freeman, Albies, Inciarte, and Swanson.


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