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Braves' Riley notches first AFL cycle since 2008

Atlanta's No. 10 prospect also flashes leather with pair of defensive gems at third
MLB.com

The weather may have cooled down but Atlanta Braves No. 10 prospect Austin Riley didn't, flashing glove, strength and smiles while hitting for the cycle.

Peoria's offense, led by the third baseman's bat, could not be stopped as the Javelinas trounced the Mesa Solar Sox, 19-4, Thursday. Riley and his self-proclaimed "slow butt" hit for the first cycle in the Arizona Fall League since Logan Morrison did so on Oct. 30, 2008. After the game, there was no wiping the grin off of his face.

The weather may have cooled down but Atlanta Braves No. 10 prospect Austin Riley didn't, flashing glove, strength and smiles while hitting for the cycle.

Peoria's offense, led by the third baseman's bat, could not be stopped as the Javelinas trounced the Mesa Solar Sox, 19-4, Thursday. Riley and his self-proclaimed "slow butt" hit for the first cycle in the Arizona Fall League since Logan Morrison did so on Oct. 30, 2008. After the game, there was no wiping the grin off of his face.

Box score

"(Ronald) Acuna said to me, 'Why didn't you get a triple?' on my double. I was like 'I don't know. Just didn't think about it,'" Riley said. "And then right when I got up to bat, someone in the stands was like, 'Hit a triple' and then it just kind of registered and I was fortunate enough to hit one."

Riley singled in the second inning, homered in the third, doubled in the sixth and capped the feat with a triple in the seventh. He also reached on an error in his final at-bat in the eighth.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: Austin Riley rips 2-run 🚀 - his 2nd @MLBazFallLeague dinger. @Braves prospects continue to rake in the AFL. Gameday: https://t.co/vOtdIZI34H pic.twitter.com/AuvDRlKZaw

Mesa came into the matchup with the lowest ERA in the league while Peoria's offense had scored the second-most runs, trailing only Surprise. The Javelinas' offense won the meeting, teeing off on every pitcher that threw, scoring 19 unanswered runs.

Riley didn't only impress on the offensive side of the ball, making several big defensive plays early. He came up big twice in the second, snagging a line drive down the third base line to get the first out of the inning and throwing out a runner at the plate later in the frame.

Tweet from @MLBPipeline: Not only did @Braves #10 prospect Austin Riley cycle yesterday in @MLBazFallLeague, he made a couple 💥 plays at 3rd: https://t.co/utkEsZytWe pic.twitter.com/3Zfj6TGe2K

The Solar Sox jumped out to an early lead after scratching across two runs in the second and third innings. Led by Tigers prospect and second baseman Kody Eaves' 2-for-5 performance at the plate, they knocked out Padres pitcher Walker Lockett after three innings.

It was all Peoria after that as it exploded for five runs in the third, taking the lead for good. After Cubs prospect Ian Rice misplayed a pop-up that would have ended the inning, things went south for the Solar Sox. The next batter after the error was Franmil Reyes, an outfielder in the Padres' organization, who hit a two-run single to center. Riley then capped the inning with a two-run home run to left field.

Catcher Max Pentecost, the Blue Jays' No. 8 prospect, had his day overshadowed by Riley as he hit behind him in the lineup. But he ended only a triple short of the cycle, going 4-for-6 with three RBIs and a home run.

Acuna, the Braves' No. 1 prospect and MLB's No. 5 overall, went 3-for-4 with four runs and a stolen base. Two of those runs scored were via his organizational teammate Riley.

Braves No. 16 prospect Alex Jackson, who hit his fifth AFL homer Wednesday, took the day off and Riley stepped up in place of the slugger, finishing 4-for-6 with five RBIs.

"It felt good. Last week I had a little bit of a nagging injury when my arm swelled up from a cut from some type of infection," Riley said. "I had a rough day yesterday. I was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Today was just a day that I needed and I felt good at the plate."

Although he believes he needs to work on his focus at the plate, Thursday was something special for the No. 41 overall pick in the 2015 Draft.

"That was my first one ever (on any level)," Riley said of the cycle. "Kind of cool. I got the ball and I get to keep that as a kind of a personal gift."

Matt McClure is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.