Braves to promote top prospect Austin Riley

The Braves will promote top third base prospect Austin Riley, The AJC confirmed early Wednesday.

Outfielder Ender Inciarte exited Tuesday's game with lower back tightness and will likely require a stint on the injured list, opening the door for Riley.

Riley, the team’s consensus top position prospect, has started four of the past six games in left field for Triple-A Gwinnett. He’d presumably man that spot in the majors, shifting Ronald Acuna to center in Inciarte’s absence.

The 22-year-old Riley hit a grand slam Tuesday, continuing what’s been the hottest streak in the International League. He’s homered 15 times in 144 at-bats, and in 13 of his past 18 games.

Riley has hit .360 with a 1.478 OPS in May. Despite his scorching-the-earth play, the Braves didn’t have a clear spot to play him in the majors, with Josh Donaldson locked into Riley’s natural position. Inciarte’s injury provided an avenue.

He played just one game in the outfield during spring training, but the team has believed in his capabilities at that spot. They recently decided to play him more regularly in Gwinnett’s outfield. Riley has also had time at first base.

Commonly considered the team’s premier position prospect, the Braves drafted Riley with the 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft out of DeSoto Central High School (Mississippi).

The Braves have patiently awaited Riley’s arrival. His presence has played a part in their decision not to invest in a long-term option at third over the past two winters.