Braves top outfield prospect Ronald Acuna had one hit in his first nine spring training at-bats. He finally broke through.
Acuna had two hits, including a two-RBI single, along with a stolen base while manning center field for the Braves on Wednesday.
The Braves lost to the Mets 6-4, but it was easily Acuna’s best showing this month.
“It was nice seeing him running around, getting a big hit to put us ahead,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Acuna singled to center in the fifth, but was left stranded at third. He hit one up the middle on a 1-0 count to drive home two runs in the seventh, putting the Braves ahead 4-3. He swiped second base with utilityman Danny Santana at the plate.
For all the preseason hype, Acuna had been quiet in the early going. He collected his first hit and run scored against the Nationals on Monday.
Acuna’s most successful spring performance came from the leadoff spot. It was the second time the team has batted him in that spot in five opportunities.
The 20-year-old’s gleeful demeanor is apparent on and off the field. It rubs off on others; new teammates have quickly taking well to him in the clubhouse.
That translates to being a high-energy guy on the field, sometimes excessively. Acuna’s eagerness will regulate in time, according to his manager.
“The more he plays, he’ll kind of settle in,” Snitker said. “That anxiousness, adrenaline rush that he’s got to be feeling will become more the norm. At batting practice he was really good today. Like anyone else he just needs some at-bats.”
Acuna is competing for an opening-day starting outfield job. The Braves would gain an additional year of contractual control if they leave him in the minors during the season’s first few weeks, so he’ll need more multi-hit afternoons if he’s going to force their hand.
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