This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, considering their teammates, but Ronald Acuña was asked after last night’s game whether Austin Riley should be selected to this year’s All-Star Game, and he didn’t hesitate to answer.
Ronald Acuña Jr. did not wait for translation when asked if Austin Riley should make the All-Star team, and answered "100 percent" in English.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) June 9, 2021
The Braves have been dealt a raw hand so far this season. Mike Soroka looks to be out for the year, Travis d’Arnaud won’t be back for months (if he returns at all), Huascar Ynoa broke his hand in a freak incident, and we all know what happened recently with Marcell Ozuna. Most teams wouldn’t be able to survive all of that and hang around in the playoff race, but the Braves have, in large part because of the emergence of Austin Riley.
Atlanta’s third baseman, like most of the rest of the lineup, got off to a sluggish start, but since the middle of April, he’s been among the best hitters in all of baseball. Riley’s slashing a remarkable .347/.426/.633 with 11 homers and 27 RBIs over his last 43 games, all while playing respectable defense at the hot corner. I’m not sure he will be named the starting third baseman for the National League. Kris Bryant is having a helluva year as well for the Cubs, but Riley should undoubtedly be around for All-Star weekend if he keeps this up — in what should be the first of many All-Star appearances for the 24-year-old.
But the mere fact that we are even discussing this is exciting. Many were ready to send Riley to another city for a tub of Red Man and a struggling AA pitcher. Now, he looks like someone who could be a cornerstone of this franchise for the next decade-plus. We’ve seen him get scorching hot before, like when he was initially called up, but something about this feels different. Riley is on everything opposing pitchers attempt to sneak by him, and he’s crushing baseballs to all fields. I don’t think it’s too early to start talking about how the Braves might have just found their next star player.