Our roundtable series continues with one of the biggest questions facing the opening day roster. What will the Braves do with Ronald Acuna? Our writers weigh in below and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments. If you missed our first roundtable session, you can find it here.
Will Ronald Acuna be on the Braves' opening day roster?
Ivan: Nope. Alex Anthopoulos has already laid the groundwork for keeping him down in the minors until (at least) an extra year of control is gained, and as such I’d expect to see him in mid-late April at the earliest.
Scott Coleman: I don’t think so, and it’s the right move to keep him in Gwinnett for at least a few weeks. He doesn’t even have 500 plate appearances between AA/AAA and I would much rather have another cheap season of Acuna at age 27 than have him start 2018 on the opening day roster for a team currently projected to win 76 games or so.
Sam Meredith: No, unless he has an other-worldly Spring Training I believe he will begin the season in Gwinnett, however, not for long. By May 1st I would be surprised if he were not in Atlanta though as the only reason at this point for keeping him in AAA is to gain an extra year of control. At just 20 years old Acuna is already set up for stardom and there is no need to rush him.
Brad Rowland: Everyone involved likely understands he is the best option… but I’d still say no. In fact, I’d be mildly surprised if he trotted into the outfield (preferably right field) on Opening Day and a debut later in April seems to make the most sense when evaluating all of the factors in play.
Demetrius Bell: In my opinion he absolutely should be on the Opening Day roster and it’s very obvious that they’ve cleared a position for him to be there. However, the Braves know that they could have a generational talent on their hands here so they’re going to try to get that extra year of team control. He won’t be there on Opening Day, but he’ll be there ASAP.
Kris Willis: I don’t think there is any question that Acuna is ready for the job but this time around the Braves will likely maximize themselves for the future by keeping him down to start in order to gain another year of team control. Some won’t like that decision but given where the Braves are at currently I think it is the correct one.
Eric Cole: If it is purely a “is he ready?” decision, then he will be on the roster. That said, I am honestly unsure what new GM Alex Anthopoulos’ position is regarding preserving service time for potential All-Star prospects. The extra year of service time is a big deal, but so is maintaining a strong relationship with Acuna as it is possible that ignoring the service time considerations could foster goodwill later on when extending him is in play. Plus, he would bring instant excitement for a fanbase that is looking for reasons to believe and watch the team. I am leaning towards no in terms of him playing on Opening Day, but am not confident either way.
Dillon Cloud: At the risk of creating tension with what should soon be one of their best players, the Braves will have Acuna begin the season in Triple-A. Acuna is, at present, the clear-cut best option for Atlanta in one of the corner outfield spots, but as the club has seen in the past, aggressively pushing a top prospect onto the Opening Day roster can have major consequences down the line. An extra year of Heyward could have prolonged the Braves’ window of contention four years ago, so let’s hope that Alex Anthopoulos is more savvy than Frank Wren when it comes to cost/benefit analysis.