Acuna homers again, making it look easy

Caption
1. His full name is Ronald Jose Acuna, and he was born Dec. 18, 1997 in La Guaira, Venezuela. 2. The Braves signed Acuna in July 2014, and the scout who signed him, Rolando Petit, tried to sign Acuna’s dad in the 1990s. 3. Acuna's dad, Ron Acuna, played in the Mets, Blue Jays and Brewers organizations from 1999-2006, reaching as high as Double-A. 4. Ronald Acuna played in Australia in November and December 2016. In 20 games, he had an OPS of 1.001. 5. In 2017, Acuna became the youngest MVP in the Arizona

Ronald Acuna has put on a show recently in batting practice, impressing everyone from early arriving fans to veteran players and coaches who smile knowingly as he hits majestic fly balls seemingly with little effort that sail 450 feet or more beyond the fences from left field to right-center.

The difference between baseball’s consensus No. 1 prospect and some other upper-cutting launch-angle enthusiasts who hit a ton of homers off 60-mph batting-practice fastballs is that Acuna’s picture-perfect swing is equally effective against upper-90s game fastballs.

The kid is making this look way easier than it is.

Acuna, 20, hit a two-run homer in the third inning Thursday against the Tigers’ Mike Fiers, after homering Tuesday off Toronto ace Aaron Sanchez, who had not allowed a homer this spring and gave up just four homers to right-handed batters in 30 starts in 2016 (Sanchez missed much of last season with injuries).

His first homer of the spring was a towering shot off the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka to straightaway center in Tampa on March 2.

Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, who pitched five hitless innings in Thursday’s 8-1 win, was asked how he’d pitch Acuna if he had to face him.

“Maybe just two-seamers inside,” Foltynewicz said, comparing it to how he pitched to Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who was the only Tiger to reach base against him, on a walk. “If he hits it, it’s going to go far, if not I’ll just walk him.

“But (Acuna) is something special. This is like my third time watching him play. He’s made some great plays behind me, reading the ball really well. So it’s going to be fun to watch him. Really fun.”

It was the second consecutive game with a home run for Acuna, who didn’t play Wednesday. He has three homers and entered Thursday leading the Grapefruit League in average (.412) and OBP (.512) and was 10th in the majors in OPS (1.130).

He raised those stats by going 1-for-2 Thursday and getting hit with a pitch with bases loaded in his other plate appearance, giving Acuna a .417 average and 1.217 OPS.

“He’s a special player, there’s no doubt about it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You can see that when you watch him. He’s just doing what comes natural, I think. Not trying to be great, just playing his game.”

Acuna was the only player in the top 40 in the majors in OPS who had more than three stolen bases  before Thursday (Acuna had four).