On the Braves off day, our friend and MLB insider Héctor Gómez provided some intriguing insight into how Ronald Acuña Jr. chose the Braves, via former MLB pitcher Kelvim Escobar.
“The team that was closer to signing Ronald Acuña Jr. was the Rockies, but they changed their mind and called telling they have signed another player,” Escobar said. “The Nationals called and asked how much money was being asked for him, they were told a number and told Ronald’s dad that he was crazy even when it wasn’t a crazy number. Royals tried him at SS because he was Alcides’ cousin but it went nowhere. Rangers had a report on him that said he has a long and slow swing. Ronald signed with the Braves at the end because he was tired of doing tryouts and just wanted to play ball.”
Gómez is an MLB insider from the Dominican Republic, but Escobar hails from Venezuela. So, if there were anyone that might have an idea into what went into signing Acuña, it would be him.
It’s sort of wild to think about these things in hindsight. Imagine if Acuña had signed with the Rockies. They might be competing for championships instead of struggling to win 60 games. Acuña might also hit .375 with 50 homers in a season if his home park was Coors Field.
It’s also interesting to see the Nationals were in the mix. Could you imagine having to face Acuña 15 times a season? It would be a nightmare.
Fortunately, none of those teams saw what was to come, or they all would have handed him a check worth $50 million as a signing bonus when Acuña was a teenager. The Braves were the one team that ultimately took a shot on him, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Acuña is on pace to do something nobody has ever done. He’s sitting at 19 homers, and if he hits one tonight against the Marlins — a team he’s owned over his career — he’ll be right on track for 40 dingers on the season. Considering he’s already at 36 steals, 40/40 is a certainty if his power numbers experience a surge. The question will be whether he can reach 60, 70, or perhaps even 80 steals. Not a game goes by where Acuña doesn’t do something eye-popping, and I hope he is as happy to be a Brave as we are to have him in Atlanta.
Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire