Fantasy Baseball: Ronald Acuna's promotion is what we've been waiting for
Top prospect Ronald Acuna is getting the call for the Braves, and his Fantasy owners will soon discover he was well worth the wait.
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The Ronald has arrived, and our lives will never be the same.
Ronald Acuna, the consensus top prospect who captured our hearts with a stellar spring showing only to sputter out of the gate at Triple-A Gwinnett, ruining what we all assumed was an ironclad promotion date of April 14, will finally get the call Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
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He has righted the ship at Gwinnett, going 11 for 33 with a home run, a double and three stolen bases over his last 11 games, thus overcoming the 10-day delay between his final spring game and the start to the minor-league season and thus convincing the Braves that the Preston Tucker sideshow had reached its natural conclusion.
So y'all know what to do.
Systems activate. Put him in, coach. Lean not on your own understanding. Start with the man in the mirror and make that change.
There's no reason to hesitate or second-guess it: Acuna belongs in your lineup, and it'll be true from now until the end of time. Or at least the end of his career. Or maybe he suffers an injury along the way, but you get the idea: This is a special prospect capable of special things.
Will they happen from Day 1? Not necessarily. His slow start at Triple-A this year wasn't out of character for him. He got off to a 1-for-9 start this spring and ended up hitting .432 (19 for 44) with four homers and four steals. He also slumped the first week at each of his three minor-league stops last year. It's kind of his MO.
But when he comes around, he doesn't let up, actually improving at each of those stops last year. And I don't just mean in terms of batting average (which went from .287 at high Class A to .326 at Double-A to .344 at Triple-A) or OPS (from .814 to .895 to .940). His plate discipline – both the walks and the strikeouts – improved at every stop. He became a more patient, more composed hitter with better strike-zone awareness as the competition around him improved, which bodes incredibly well for his transition to the big leagues even as a fresh-faced 20-year-old. We already got a glimpse of it in March. He was arguably the MVP of the exhibition season.
And in case there was any doubt as to the strength of his competition, his four homers came off Masahiro Tanaka, Aaron Sanchez, Mike Fiers and Zach Eflin – all pitchers with major-league experience, including three with genuine staying power. He impressed the heck out of everybody, winning over what skeptics remained as his ADP in CBS Sports leagues climbed by the day. You made the investment. You put in the time. And now, you'll reap the rewards.
It's not even totally clear what you'll get the most of. Batting average, home runs, stolen bases are all within his skill set. He excels in so many areas that he doesn't need to succeed at everything all at once to deliver huge Fantasy production. So while his ceiling gets most of the attention – and we're talking a potential first-round pick, perhaps as soon as next year – his floor is also remarkably high, certainly as far as 20-year-olds go.
It's why he's already on the threshold of being a top-20 outfielder for me, ranking just outside that group of no-questions-asked, near-impossible-to-acquire, must-start studs, which include the likes of Andrew Benintendi, A.J. Pollock and Khris Davis. And that's me taking a cautious approach.
Not a chance you're moving Acuna now, not when you've already matched five of the numbers on that lottery ticket.
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