Braves promoting Acuna to Triple-A

No. 86 overall prospect reaches top rung of Minors at age 19

Ronald Acuna has combined to hit .313/.361/.506 with 12 homers and 33 steals across two levels this year. (Ed Gardner/

By Josh Jackson / | July 13, 2017 12:51 AM ET

Good news for every Southern League team but one: The Braves are moving baseball's No. 86 prospect Ronald Acuna up to Triple-A Gwinnett.

"He's very impressive," Double-A Mississippi manager Luis Salazar said. "Players on the opposite team say, 'Whoa! Get this guy out of here.'"

Salazar told Acuna of the promotion after the 19-year-old center fielder's three-hit performance Wednesday night, describing the youngster's reaction as "very excited." Austin Riley, Atlanta's No. 12 prospect, also moves up the ladder, joining the M-Braves from the Florida State League.

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"It's a great opportunity for a young kid, and he's a very talented kid with a bright future ahead of him," Salazar said of Acuna.

The Venezuela native started the year with the Class A Advanced Florida Fire Frogs, but moved up to Mississippi after 28 games. Through 57 contests, Acuna stood second on the Southern League circuit with a .326 average and a .520 slugging percentage. He smacked 14 doubles, nine homers and a triple, and he'd stolen 19 bases after nabbing 14 with the Fire Frogs.

"When he came up here from the Florida State League, he made the All-Star Game in one month and a half. He was hitting .400 [into June]. The way he was swinging, he puts in good at-bats in every game," Salazar said. 

Video: Acuna's third hit for Mississippi

"It's a true, really five-tool player. He can do it all. I haven't seen Andruw Jones [as a youngster], but this kid is going to get better and better. He's already a lot better hitter than Andruw Jones was at his age. He can run, he can throw, he hits for power. ... He does everything." 

In addition to the Southern League midsummer classic, Acuna was selected for the Futures Game, and he was one of three players on the World team to play all nine innings. On Tuesday, in his second game back with the M-Braves, he slugged a mammoth home run Salazar estimated went 450 feet.

Video: Mississippi's Acuna cranks monster homer

"For us to see that kind of talent, it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. He put up really good numbers, and he's going to keep swinging, keep playing the way he's supposed to play at the next level," the veteran of 13 Major League seasons said. "His focus is to go to the big leagues. I have no doubt he's going to reach there at some point if he just keeps playing, keeps hitting. To me, he's the best, most exciting player I've seen."

Riley, 20, batted .252/.310/.408 with 12 homers over 81 games with Florida.

"I haven't [worked with] Riley in Spring Training, but he's another one on the fast track," Salazar said. "He's a big kid, and he can really play third base, and he hits for power to the opposite field."

Josh Jackson is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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