CINCINNATI — Ronald Acuna had to wait a little longer than anticipated, but the much-hyped prospect will now have the chance to display his tremendous talents at the Major League level.
A Major League source said Acuna was informed late Tuesday night he will join the Braves in Cincinnati for Wednesday night’s game against the Reds. The 20-year-old outfielder now stands less than 24 hours away from experiencing one of the most anticipated Major League debuts baseball has seen over the past decade.
Acuna will serve as Atlanta’s starting left fielder and attempt to bolster a lineup that has tallied a National League-high 122 runs without him. The five-tool outfielder ranks second only to Angels rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list.
It remains to be seen where Braves manager Brian Snitker will place Acuna in the lineup, but there’s a possibility he could soon find himself batting behind Freddie Freeman and potential cleanup hitter Jose Bautista, who could join Atlanta’s roster later this week.
With Acuna’s arrival, Preston Tucker’s powerful left-handed bat will be an asset off the bench. Tucker has played a key role in the Braves’ early-season success, but he entered the season knowing his starting role could be temporary.
After Acuna dazzled during Spring Training, the anticipation was he might make his big league debut on April 14, which was the earliest date the Braves could have promoted him and secured an extra year of contractual control. But his arrival was delayed, as he went 5-for-36 with 14 strikeouts to start the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
But Acuna has warmed up of late, with 11 hits, including a homer and double, in his last 33 at-bats. He has battled slow starts in the past, and his latest one might have been influenced by the nine-day dead period that separated his final Spring Training game and Gwinnett’s season opener.
Braves fans have been eagerly awaiting Acuna’s arrival since he progressed his way from Class A Advanced Florida to Gwinnett last year. He was named MLB Pipeline’s Hitter of the Year after he hit .325 with 21 homers, 44 stolen bases and a .896 OPS in 2017.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.