Braves third-base prospect Austin Riley is a step closer to the majors after being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett.
A person familiar with the situation confirmed that Riley, a power-hitting prospect from who turned 21 in April, has been promoted from Double-A Mississippi. He’s expected to join Gwinnett for the first game of a homestand Monday.
Riley hit .333 with 19 extra-base hits including six homers and 20 RBIs in 27 games this season at Mississippi, posting a .394 OBP and .677 slugging percentage in 109 plate appearances. He was promoted after the Braves brought veteran Jose Bautista from Triple-A to the majors on Friday.
Since being promoted from high Single-A to Double-A last summer, Riley hit a robust .321 (89-for-277) in 75 games at Mississippi with 19 doubles, four triples, 14 homers and a .391 OBP and .570 slugging percentage.
Riley was a first-round draft pick – 41st overall selection – in 2015 out of DeSoto Central High School in Southaven, Miss., and has been projected as the long-term third baseman for the Braves, provided his development continued this season as it did a year ago, which it has so far.
The Braves didn’t sign a veteran third baseman to a multi-year deal over the winter primarily because of Riley, whom they didn’t want to block if he’s ready at some point in 2019. At his current pace, it wouldn’t be surprising if he competes for the starting job as soon as 2019 spring training.