In a game largely overshadowed by the arrival of Ronald Acuña, the Braves battled back late to beat the Reds 5-4. Starter Matt Wisler completed five innings, allowing four runs on nine hits, but was bailed out by some timely hitting in the later innings. The Braves rallied in the eighth inning to tie the game on a Kurt Suzuki single that scored Acuña, then in the ninth Johan Camargo gave Atlanta the lead on an infield single that scored Ozzie Albies. Uncharacteristically, the Atlanta bullpen was lights out, delivering four scoreless innings with A.J. Minter closing out the victory for his first career save.
With Ronald Acuña making his major league debut on Wednesday, our own Garrett Spain wrote up what me might expect of the 20-year-old this season and going forward. Garrett is part of the prospect team for Talking Chop, for those of you who are unaware, and has been one of the biggest Acuña supporters for some time. He gives us a preview as well as a final rundown of Acuña’s scouting report.
The most noticeable thing about Acuna is just how fast his hands are at the plate. He gets the bat through the zone incredibly quickly, creating bat speed and power that is jaw-dropping. Overswinging can at times cause strikeout problems, but Acuna has the natural hand-eye coordination to still make contact an impressive amount and has shown to be adept at adjusting during the season, during games, and during at bats. His problem at times with Rome was breaking pitches, but he’s managed in a short time to make incredible stride in that regard and can hit anything. Acuna isn’t quite as natural at hitting as Ozzie Albies was, but he’s very close and has shown a refinement in pitch recognition that makes him a difficult out at the plate. He’s been aggressive early this season and throughout his career and that has caused him problems, but he’s rarely overly aggressive to the point that it impacts his production. He may not have elite walk rates, but they’ll usually be above average and should rise as pitchers respect him more and he earns the reputation as a guy they don’t want to challenge with a fastball.
Despite losing his starting job with the arrival of Ronald Acuña, outfielder Preston Tucker is singing the praises of his successor with a lofty comparison. Having been a part of the rebuilding stages in Houston, Tucker saw first-hand the impact that shortstop Carlos Correa had on the Astros roster, and now feels that Ronald Acuña could have the same effect.
“I think it’s very similar to when the Astros called up Correa,” Tucker said. “I think that was really the turning point for [Houston’s] new era. I think everybody obviously expects [Acuna] to produce and I feel that he will. So, hopefully we see a lot of that right off the bat. It would definitely get this team on a roll.”
The Braves have made a number of roster moves in recent days, and on Wednesday got some good news with regards to players who were designated for assignment. Lane Adams, Rex Brothers, and Josh Ravin each cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Gwinnett. Retaining the services of all three could prove beneficial should the need arise for one of them at the major league level later in the season.
In 2010, Jonny Venters debuted with the Braves, becoming one of the top relief pitchers in baseball alongside Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, Venters’ successes were short-lived, as he last recorded a major league out in 2012 prior to Wednesday night, when he pitched one-third of an inning for the Rays. Venters has undergone three Tommy John surgeries since his days as a setup man in Atlanta, but now resides in the AL East and appears to be fully healthy for the first time since his time with the Braves. Congratulations to Jonny on a hard-fought comeback and hopefully continued success at the big league level.