Acuna Jr. And Braves: One Day At A Time • Latino Sports

Baseball

Acuna Jr. And Braves: One Day At A Time

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Flushing, NY:  Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves led off the game Thursday night at Citi Field.  The ball was hit hard down the left field line and went for a triple, the first of his young Major League career. And his speed from home to third again displayed why the Braves will be battling for the NL East crown with the Phillies and Nationals.

It took 11.15 seconds for Acuna to round the bases and according to records that was the fastest time for a Braves player to do that this season.  He also got his first career start in center field and at times that was an adventure.

However his continued consistency at the plate and speed have become focal points as to why the Braves are in this division title picture. Acuna also reached base three times in the Braves 4-2 win over the Mets in winning their fourth straight and for the moment a half game behind the first place Phillies.

“Just how hard he swings at the ball kind of reminds me of Bryce Harper a little bit, just very intimidating at the plate,” said winning pitcher Mike Foltynewicz. “When he puts the ball in play it’s awesome to watch him run.”

Acuna fits right in with the Braves. Young, athletic, this is a team that gets the extra base hit and they know how to run the bases.  With a record of 44-4 after six innings and 44-15 when scoring first, Acuna has been a part of that success.

Since moving into that leadoff spot on July 20th, first game after the All-Star break, the rookie  was hitting .333 with three doubles, four home runs. 422 on base percentage and .718 slugging prior to the Braves win Thursday night.

“I slowed down at first,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “We were all thinking double, double, off the bat. We weren’t expecting it taking the hop that it did so I slowed up at first then turned it up a bit.”

He said, “One day at a time,” regarding the Braves and their quest to win the division title,

But Acuna has been doing this since arriving with the Braves. The 20-year old native of Vargas, Venezuela was signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2014. Last year he led the minor leagues with 181 hits in 139 games and led all Atlanta farm hands in batting average, and had 44 stolen bases.

And with his start in center, Acuna has played all three outfield positions. A rookie mistake in the sixth inning and mishandling a ball hit by Wilmer Flores went for the moment as a double. A tying run for the Mets was off the bases when it was ruled that Flores did not slide in ahead of a tag from the ball Acuna threw from center field.

Manager Brian Snitker said about Acuna and the play, “An aggressive kid. He overran but had the wherewithal to get the ball and make a strong throw. That was really good how he recovered.”

He also misplayed an easy fly ball earlier.  But that won’t deter the youngster who is expected to be inserted back in leftfield Friday night, though there is confidence he can handle all three outfield positions when called upon.

Also, Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte will be back in the lineup in center Friday night with the Mets throwing right-hander Jacob deGrom, Though Acuna Jr, a center fielder by his own recognition is confident he can handle the position again.

Regardless, it is that speed and how Acuna Jr. gets on base. The Braves score runs when he gets on and that’s what matters. They expect the production to continue and that aggressive approach on the bases.

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About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]

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