Ever since the minors, there was an extraordinary sense of certainty that Ronald Acuña would one day be a superstar in the major leagues. He destroyed pitching on the farm, hitting a combined .325 with 21 homers in 133 games over three levels in 2017 on his way to becoming baseball’s number one prospect.
Once he arrived at the bigs in May of 2018; it did not take him long to show off his phenomenal power for a player who might have weighed 180 pounds soaking wet. There was a point in his memorable second half of the season where he homered in five straight games, including three leadoff bombs in a row. It irritated the Marlins so much, that Jose Ureña threw at him to end the streak. But what makes Acuña so unique is more than his world-class power. It’s his speed, the hustle, his swagger, and ability to feel so confident on the brightest of stages.
He showed that with his spectacular showing at the home-run derby. Fatigue was the only thing that could slow him down. The 21-year-old was made to dominate the game of baseball, and he does so in every phase.
Most recently, Acuña has become steal-happy. Everyone knows once he gets on first; he’s going, and they’ve quickly found out there is nothing they can do about it. I’m not even sure Acuña was aware of how difficult it was for teams to catch him stealing until he added it to his arsenal over the last couple of weeks.
Acuña has eight steals in his last eight games, and those steals are resulting in manufactured runs. He’s also scored eight times in that period and is nine swipes away from reaching 30 stolen bases. At the rate Acuña is going, that could occur before he reaches 30 home runs, which he is six away from. Either way, it seems inevitable that he eclipses both– something only three players in Braves history have accomplished – Dale Murphy, Ron Gant, and Hank Aaron. Once completed, Acuña will become the second-youngest member of the club behind Mike Trout, a player he is increasingly being compared to as he continues his rise to stardom.
Dansby Swanson might have put it best when talking to FoxSports about Acuña, “He’s a better athlete than everyone else.” We always knew he was fast. Statcast puts him two spots outside the top 30 in sprint speed – right there with players like Mike Trout and Fernando Tatis Jr. But it hasn’t been until this month that he started making it a weapon, becoming another thing Acuña is better than everyone else at.