Braves' Riley earns promotion to Triple-A

No. 93 prospect is next member of Atlanta system to move up

Austin Riley has climbed to Triple-A almost three years after the Braves drafted him with the 41st overall pick. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | May 7, 2018 5:00 PM

Yet another Braves prospect is on the move.

No. 93 overall prospect Austin Riley has been promoted from Double-A Mississippi to Triple-A Gwinnett and will make his Stripers debut Monday night at home against Charlotte. Right-handed pitcher Andres Santiago was sent down to Double-A to make room for Riley on the Gwinnett roster.

Riley earned the promotion with a sparkling performance in his return to the M-Braves. The 21-year-old third baseman batted .333/.394/.677 with six homers, three triples and 10 doubles in 27 games with Mississippi. He led the Southern League in slugging percentage, total bases (67) and extra-base hits (19) while his 1.071 OPS ranked third and his 192 wRC+ fifth. He boosted all of those numbers with a final hot stretch, going 7-for-15 with two homers and a double in his last four games.

Dating back to last season, Riley produced a .321/.391/.570 line with 14 homers in 75 career games with Mississippi.

Video: Austin Riley sends a towering homer into the Bay

Taken with the 41st overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Riley has shown a powerful bat in his first four seasons in the Atlanta system. He hit 20 home runs in both 2016 and 2017 and has given himself a great shot at setting a new career high with his strong start this year. His 25.7 percent strikeout rate this season may keep Riley from hitting for a high average, but he has the pop to make up for it. Defensively, he has plenty of arm from his days as a high-school pitcher, and the Braves have been impressed by his improvement overall. 

Riley's immediate path to the Majors is blocked by the recent addition of Jose Bautista, who was signed to a Minor League deal to play third base and moved up to Atlanta on Friday. Bautista is trying to become a full-time third baseman for the first time since 2008, but if the veteran's attempt falters, Riley could get a chance to prove that the organization's third baseman of the future is its third baseman of the present.

The Braves lead the NL East with a 19-14 record and have not been shy about accelerating their long-term rebuilding process. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Mike Soroka, both former teammates of Riley's, have made their Major League debuts at age 20 this season. The 21-year-old Riley could be next.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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