Depending on which prospect list you prefer, Austin Riley was the Braves top prospect to begin the season. His last month of obliterating baseballs showed the Braves’ faithful why, leaving them counting down the days to his arrival in Atlanta.
Last night, Riley added to his already mountainous home run total of 14 with a grand slam to put the Stripers up 7-2. Around the same time, Ender Inciarte exited the Braves game with a lower back injury. The perfect potion for a Riley call-up had arrived.
The Braves made it official late last night, announcing that Riley will be promoted for today’s game against the Cardinals. Inciarte will receive a short stint on the injured list, which will give the Braves top prospect some time to prove he should be in the everyday lineup for Atlanta.
The 22-year-old slugger is slashing .299/.371/.681/1.057 with 15 homers and 39 RBIs. The plan was never for Riley to be in the majors by May, but it is difficult to ignore when someone is going on a tear like that. So the Braves had to find a place for him to play.
For the past week or so, they’ve given him some opportunities in left field. By all accounts, he’s been serviceable. Riley is never going to win a Gold Glove out there, but if he’s hitting 30+ bombs a season, it is not going to matter. With Inciarte out, expect Riley to be the everyday left fielder with Acuña moving to center field.
We are only 42 games into the season, and the Braves are 21-21. However, I would call tonight’s game a must watch for anyone who calls themselves an Atlanta sports fan. This is the Braves third baseman of the future but could also be the answer to a lot of Atlanta’s offensive problems early on in the season.