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Braves place closer Vizcaino (shoulder) on DL

Right-hander Phillips gets first big league callup
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- As Arodys Vizcaino spends at least another week resting his sore right shoulder, the Braves will get their first look at Evan Phillips, who over the past couple of months went from being relatively unknown to one of Atlanta's most intriguing prospects.

"I don't want to say I was expecting it or anything," Phillips said. "I was just trying to work on my craft down there in [Triple-A] Gwinnett. I just wanted to be ready for when [the call] did come, and thankfully, it did."

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ATLANTA -- As Arodys Vizcaino spends at least another week resting his sore right shoulder, the Braves will get their first look at Evan Phillips, who over the past couple of months went from being relatively unknown to one of Atlanta's most intriguing prospects.

"I don't want to say I was expecting it or anything," Phillips said. "I was just trying to work on my craft down there in [Triple-A] Gwinnett. I just wanted to be ready for when [the call] did come, and thankfully, it did."

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Phillips received his first call to the Majors late Saturday night, when the Braves determined they had no choice but to place Vizcaino on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The veteran closer has been unavailable to pitch since notching consecutive saves last weekend.

"[Vizcaino's shoulder] is not responding like we wanted it to," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It was one of those situations where if he wasn't ready to pitch today, we had to back off it and get him right, because it wasn't working."

Vizcaino's shoulder has been bothering him throughout this season. The Braves were relieved when an MRI performed on Thursday confirmed the discomfort has not been caused by structural damage. But even after receiving a cortisone injection, the 27-year-old reliever would not have been available if needed during Saturday's 7-5 loss to the Orioles.

The Braves were able to backdate Vizcaino's transaction three days to Thursday, so he'll be eligible to be activated during next Sunday's series finale in St. Louis. For now, the hope is he will not need more than an additional week of rest.

A.J. Minter and Dan Winkler will share the closing duties while Vizcaino is on the DL. Minter has pitched on consecutive days just eight times during his professional career (seven times this season). Winkler struggled as he retired just one of the five batters he faced while blowing his first career save opportunity in Friday's 15-inning loss to the Orioles.

Video: ATL@PHI: Minter works out of a tight spot in the 8th

"[Being a closer] is a different animal," Snitker said. "That's why those guys make a lot of money. It's good that [Winkler] experienced that because I don't think you're going to know how you'll react until you actually do it."

Phillips posted a 2.31 ERA and recorded 50 strikeouts over 35 innings for Gwinnett. Opponents hit .211 against the 23-year-old right-hander, who was taken by the Braves in the 17th round of the 2015 MLB Draft.

"I always believed I could be a big leaguer and dreamt about it my whole life," Phillips said. "But when things really start clicking and you really start feeling confident, you don't have to overwork while pitching. I really thought it was a possibility this year when I really got the ball rolling. I had to look myself in the mirror and think this could really happen someday."

Tweet from @Braves: Welcome to the bigs, @EvanPhillips36! #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/IoGcFXQ2Qj

Given Phillips produced a 6.14 combined ERA with 53 strikeouts over 51 1/3 innings between Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett last year, there wasn't much reason to anticipate this year's success

"When he signed, he had a big league fastball and he had to do some work on his breaking ball," Snitker said. "Obviously, he has. Guys like him. We liked him this spring. His name has come up from the get-go. His name has been on the radar."

To create a 40-man roster spot for Phillips, the Braves designated infielder Phil Gosselin for assignment. Gosselin had been playing for Gwinnett since rejoining Atlanta's organization with a Minor League deal in May.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Arodys Vizcaino

Snitker: Acuna unlikely to return

MLB's top prospect begins rehab assignment at Triple-A
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- As the Braves continue to take a cautious approach with Ronald Acuna Jr., it appears they may keep the 20-year-old phenom on the disabled list through the early portion of this week.

"We're still evaluating," Braves manager Brian Snitker said following Sunday's 7-3 win over the Orioles. "He's feeling good, but we're still talking to the doctors about when is the right time. We don't want to rush him back. We want to make sure everything is healed."

ATLANTA -- As the Braves continue to take a cautious approach with Ronald Acuna Jr., it appears they may keep the 20-year-old phenom on the disabled list through the early portion of this week.

"We're still evaluating," Braves manager Brian Snitker said following Sunday's 7-3 win over the Orioles. "He's feeling good, but we're still talking to the doctors about when is the right time. We don't want to rush him back. We want to make sure everything is healed."

Acuna has been on the DL since sustaining a mild tear of his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on May 27. He went 1-for-10 in three Minor League rehab games for Triple-A Gwinnett this weekend. More importantly, he got through the games in pain-free fashion.

"The reports are good," Snitker said. "I'm not looking for results, I'm looking for health -- how he's running and cutting and things like that. I still think we need to make sure he's absolutely ready before we bring him back."

While the Braves have not revealed any specific plans, Snitker indicated he expects Acuna to still be with Gwinnett when the Stripers begin a three-game series in Norfolk on Monday.

If Acuna makes the trip, the assumption would be the Braves want him to play in at least two more games. And with Atlanta's series finale against the Reds starting Wednesday at noon, there seems to be a chance Acuna won't rejoin Atlanta's lineup before Friday's series in St. Louis.

"It's not going to be up to me," Snitker said. "It's going to be up to the medical people."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.

Right shoulder woes land Soroka back on DL

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- A little more than a week after ending a month-long layoff, Braves rookie hurler Mike Soroka is once again on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

"It's much the same as the problem we had before," Soroka said. "The good news about that is we're ahead of the curve and know what to do to get rid of it. It's just about what they told us to keep it under control."

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ATLANTA -- A little more than a week after ending a month-long layoff, Braves rookie hurler Mike Soroka is once again on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

"It's much the same as the problem we had before," Soroka said. "The good news about that is we're ahead of the curve and know what to do to get rid of it. It's just about what they told us to keep it under control."

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Soroka was encouraged when an MRI performed Thursday showed no structural damage. But the Braves still had no choice but to put him back on the 10-day DL with what the pitcher described as rotator cuff inflammation. The Braves promoted versatile switch-hitting outfielder Danny Santana from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the vacant roster spot.

"Something still isn't right," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's got [something] in there, and the best thing to do is to shut him down for a while and try to get him right."

The Braves recognized something was not right as Soroka's velocity dipped while he allowed four runs on eight hits, including six doubles, over 4 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. His four-seam fastball touched 93.4 mph and averaged 92.3 mph during the first inning. In the fifth, it maxed out at 91.7 mph and dipped as low as 89.3 mph.

More importantly, Soroka could physically feel a difference with his arm speed.

"I know what's ahead of me and I know that it's something we have to take slowly," Soroka said. "I'm going to be getting there in a few days where I'm going to want to throw again. But it might be smarter to back it up a little more and just make sure it is gone because it doesn't do anyone any good for me to be pitching like this."

While the Braves are obviously not ready to set a timetable for Soroka's return, it's certainly feasible to believe the 20-year-old right-hander will remain on the DL through the All-Star break.

Soroka was initially placed on the DL when he felt shoulder discomfort following his May 12 start in Miami. He rested for a week, then prepared to make the first of two Minor League rehab starts on June 1.

When Soroka returned to Atlanta's rotation on June 13, he kept the Mets hitless through six innings and then exited his 74-pitch return having allowed just one hit over 6 1/3 frames. The lone four-seam fastball he threw during the seventh registered 93.4 mph.

"It's just getting angry at me because of the way my shoulder is," Soroka said. "That's all easily correctable. It's not like we did anything wrong the last time, it's just the way it is sometimes. It's something we need to get under control, so I can get out there, take the mound every fifth day and do what I know I can do."

Video: NYM@ATL: Soroka flirts with no-no in return from DL

Santana got off to a slow start this season for Gwinnett, but the outfielder hit .316 with seven home runs and a .978 OPS over his past 24 games.

Folty appears ready
Mike Foltynewicz completed Friday's bullpen session in pain-free fashion. If he doesn't feel any discomfort when he awakes Saturday, the Braves' right-hander will likely be activated from the DL to start Monday's game against the Reds.

Foltynewicz had been targeted to start Sunday, but with Soroka now on the DL, the Braves have opted to essentially put Brandon McCarthy back in the rotation as soon as possible. McCarthy's start on Sunday will serve as his first appearance since June 15. McCarthy was the odd man out after Soroka and Julio Teheran returned from the DL, but the Braves did not immediately push him into a relief role because there was some uncertainty about Foltynewicz, who has not pitched since exiting his June 12 start with right triceps tightness.

Video: NYM@ATL: Foltynewicz exits with tricep tightness

An inspiration
Recent White Sox draftee Matt Klug experienced the thrill of meeting Freddie Freeman before Friday night's game. Klug recently lost both of his parents and his best friend to early deaths. As he has persevered, he has been inspired by Freeman, who was just 10 years old when his mother passed away.

"Just seeing him up here is something you look up to," Klug said. "You think if he can do it, so can I."

Tweet from @Braves: .@FreddieFreeman5 meets with Brookwood High School outfielder and recent @whitesox draft pick Matthew Klug. Take a few minutes to learn about Matthew and his words of inspiration! https://t.co/jwCP3Lo9n9 pic.twitter.com/FQoIqPnXbk

Inspired by Klug's story and the determination he brought to the field every day, the White Sox took Klug in the 38th round of this year's MLB Draft. The 17-year-old suburban Atlanta native recently graduated from Brookwood High School, which is the alma mater of Snitker's children.

Tweet from @MattKlug33: So @FreddieFreeman5 gave me a bat with a personal message and @LieutenantDans7 literally walked up to me and said ���I just wanna give you a hug���. Is this real life? @Braves pic.twitter.com/VGx7QMBqK4

Snitker and Freeman both spent time with Klug on the field before Friday's batting practice was rained out.

"[Freeman] told me he knows what I've gone through and to just keep going," said Klug, who will attend the University of North Georgia-Gainesville this fall.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Danny Santana, Mike Soroka

Acuna closing in on start of rehab assignment

Snitker: 'I think it's going to be sooner rather than later'
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn't ready to definitively say when Ronald Acuna Jr. will begin playing in Minor League rehab games. But as Snitker spoke before Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays, he indicated the young outfielder is almost ready to take another step toward returning to Atlanta's lineup.

"He's doing really well," Snitker said. "I'm not sure when he'll go out [on a rehab assignment]. But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."

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TORONTO -- Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn't ready to definitively say when Ronald Acuna Jr. will begin playing in Minor League rehab games. But as Snitker spoke before Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays, he indicated the young outfielder is almost ready to take another step toward returning to Atlanta's lineup.

"He's doing really well," Snitker said. "I'm not sure when he'll go out [on a rehab assignment]. But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."

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Acuna has spent the past two days progressing through what could be described as a mini-Spring Training at the Braves' complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 20-year-old phenom hasn't experienced any problems with his left knee as he's taken live batting practice and completed a variety of running exercises that have forced him to make sudden motions he'll experience in games.

"It's a better situation for him because he is down there and can do all the drills," Snitker said. "He's always hit off some live pitching, which he'll do again. To accelerate things, it's easier for him to do it there than it is for us because there are guys there specifically just to work him out."

If Acuna continues to progress, there's certainly a chance he could join Triple-A Gwinnett within the next couple days to begin playing rehab games. The outfielder, who ranks as MLB Pipeline's top prospect, has been sidelined since suffering a mild sprain of his left anterior cruciate ligament on May 27.

Rotation plans 
Brandon McCarthy is not projected to start any of the Braves' next five games. But while it appears McCarthy has lost his rotation spot, Atlanta does not plan to use him as a reliever until it is sure Mike Foltynewicz will come off the disabled list to start Sunday afternoon's game against the Orioles.

Foltynewicz is scheduled to throw a side session on Friday in Atlanta. If all goes well, he'll be cleared to make his first start since exiting his June 12 outing after five innings because of tightness in his right triceps muscle.

As things currently stand, the Braves are planning to have Sean Newcomb (Friday), Julio Teheran (Saturday) and Foltynewicz (Sunday) serve as their starting pitchers during the Orioles series. This arrangement would allow Newcomb and Teheran to make their respective starts with just one extra day of rest.

McCarthy has allowed just two earned runs while pitching into the sixth inning of two of his past three outings. But opponents have hit .335 and compiled a .368 on-base percentage against him as he has produced a 6.26 ERA over his past eight starts.

With Anibal Sanchez producing a 2.10 ERA through his first six starts, there simply is not currently room for McCarthy in a rotation that has proven to be one of the team's strengths.

Praise to predecessors
As Braves executive vice president Alex Anthopoulos reunited with the Toronto media members who covered him when he served as the Blue Jays' general manager from 2009-15, he said his team's success this season is a product of the sound decisions made by the men who preceded him as the Braves' GM.

"We didn't know what to expect," Anthopoulos said. "We knew there was a lot of talent here. All the GMs before me -- John Schuerholz, Frank Wren and John Hart -- these guys did an amazing job. The scouting department and development department, there's a ton of talent here. Those guys deserve all the credit. I know in their own way they're going to watch and follow and they all should be very proud of what is going on here."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.

Soroka takes no-no into 7th as Braves cruise

Freeman homers, hits RBI single to support 20-year-old's gem in return from DL
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- As the Braves bid to remain atop the National League East standings, they find themselves with a talented young rotation that once again includes Mike Soroka, who ended a month-long injury absence with a performance that indicated he could be a valuable difference maker in the season's final few months.

"He's as good as he wants to be," Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson said. "He's got all the talent in the world. It's just a matter of piecing it all together and making adjustments when he needs to. He's got the mindset for it and the ability."

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ATLANTA -- As the Braves bid to remain atop the National League East standings, they find themselves with a talented young rotation that once again includes Mike Soroka, who ended a month-long injury absence with a performance that indicated he could be a valuable difference maker in the season's final few months.

"He's as good as he wants to be," Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson said. "He's got all the talent in the world. It's just a matter of piecing it all together and making adjustments when he needs to. He's got the mindset for it and the ability."

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Showing the poise of a seasoned veteran during Wednesday afternoon's 2-0 win over the Mets, Soroka outdueled Jacob deGrom and carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. Not bad for a 20-year-old right-hander who was making his fourth career start and first since being placed on the disabled list on May 17.

"I felt awesome," Soroka said. "Just getting out there again and feeling the rush of adrenaline and the butterflies you feel before a game are the things you really miss when you get right down to it."

Video: NYM@ATL: Soroka retires deGrom to keep no-no alive

There is a lot to like right now about the first-place Braves, who saw Freddie Freeman drive in the only two runs in this victory that completed a two-game sweep of the reeling Mets. Freeman's offensive contributions have been consistently supported by a rotation that features Mike Foltynewicz, who has a 0.86 ERA over his past seven starts, and fellow All-Star candidate Sean Newcomb, who has allowed two earned runs or less in nine of 13 starts.

Freeman honors mother's memory with big day

Now Atlanta's starting staff can once again rely on the tremendous talent of Soroka, who ranks as the game's 26th-best prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

"The future is bright," Freeman said. "You've heard about these guys the past couple years. They're finally here and they're taking the next step this year. It's huge for us. When you can come to the field every single day and know you have a chance to win, that's big."

Video: NYM@ATL: Freeman hits a solo homer to right field

Soroka faced the minimum and held the Mets hitless until Michael Conforto opened the seventh inning with an infield single to shortstop that might have been prevented had Swanson not been shaded toward the second-base bag. The right-hander followed with a strikeout of Todd Frazier and then exited his 74-pitch return having allowed one hit over 6 1/3 innings.

"The limited time I've seen him, I've felt like [Soroka could have a special outing] every time I've seen him pitch," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He was very efficient. It was really good."

Soroka totaled 73 pitches in the second and final rehab start last week, but he had not completed as many as five innings in more than a month. Snitker entered this game thinking he'd limit the prized prospect to six innings, but he extended the boundary with the no-hit bid still alive. But regardless of what had transpired, Soroka was not going to pitch more than seven innings.

Video: NYM@ATL: Snitker on Soroka's outing in 2-0 win

"It was more about him, his innings and what he's physically prepared to do," Snitker said.

As he traded zeros with deGrom, Soroka said he found himself in a zone that prevented him from even thinking about his no-hit bid until the sixth inning. He ended his outing with a strikeout of Frazier and had no problem handing the ball to lefty reliever A.J. Minter, who promptly retired left-handed hitters Brandon Nimmo and Jay Bruce to strand Conforto in the seventh.

"As much as the situation wants you to keep pitching, you've got two lefties coming up and I think you've got one of the best left-handed relievers coming out of the 'pen," Soroka said. "So I was pretty confident."

Video: NYM@ATL: Vizcaino induces popout to earn the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One was enough: Freeman provided cushion when he drilled an eighth-inning solo shot off Jerry Blevins, but it was his one-out single in the fourth inning that proved to be the decisive contribution. Swanson doubled off deGrom and then alertly took off when Freeman followed with a sinking liner that landed in front of Nimmo in left field. The Braves' shortstop never broke stride as he neared third and scored uncontested after Nimmo fumbled the ball.

Along with being 2-2 with a 0.87 ERA over his past 10 starts, deGrom is 0-1 with a 0.72 ERA in four starts against Atlanta this year.

"One run against deGrom is like six," Freeman said. "He never makes mistakes. I think he's one of the top two or three pitchers in this whole entire game. When we had our advance meeting in the morning, it's almost like you just say, 'Good luck and hopefully you hit one today.'"

Video: NYM@ATL: Freeman laces an RBI single to left field

SOUND SMART
At 20 years and 313 days, Soroka became the youngest Braves pitcher in the modern era to allow one hit or less in a start of any length. Since World War II, only 17 other Major Leaguers aged 20 or younger have allowed one hit or less in a start of at least 6 1/3 innings. The most recent had been the Dodgers' Julio Urias on May 9, 2017.

Swanson's opposite-field double in the fourth was hit against deGrom's 95-mph fastball. The Braves' shortstop has hit .359 (14-for-39) vs. 95-plus mph pitches this year, according to Statcast™, after he hit .170 (9-for-53) against such pitches in 2017.

Wednesday's game wrapped up in a tidy two hours and 12 minutes, making it the second-shortest game of the season after the D-backs' two-hour, five-minute 1-0 win over the Giants on April 17. The last time the Braves finished a nine-inning game that quickly was July 5, 2016 (two hours, eight minutes).

Video: MLB Tonight on Braves young starter Mike Soroka

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Swanson aided Soroka's effort with a couple defensive gems. The shortstop was shaded toward third base in the second inning when Kevin Plawecki hit a 99.3-mph double-play grounder to second baseman Ozzie Albies, who had to briefly stall before feeding Swanson, who glided over second base before firing to first base.

"I wasn't meant to run that far," Swanson said. "I'm more of a sprint kind of guy. That was kind of long. We were laughing about it. It was pretty funny."

Swanson then extended the no-hit bid when he ranged to his right and snared Plawecki's fifth-inning grounder before fading into the outfield grass and spinning to making a pinpoint throw to first base to record an out.

"I don't know how those guys right their bodies to make a throw like that," Snitker said. "He's done that two or three times this past week with rangy plays like that."

Video: NYM@ATL: Swanson makes spinning throw to nab Plawecki

UP NEXT
Anibal Sanchez will attempt to extend his recent success when the Braves open a four-game series against the Padres on Thursday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Sanchez, who owns a 2.37 ERA through six appearances (five starts), will duel right-hander Tyson Ross at SunTrust Park. The Braves have not announced their rotation for the remainder of the series.

Brandon McCarthy could start Friday and Newcomb on Saturday. Both would take the mound with an extra day of rest. Julio Teheran could then come off the disabled list to start Sunday's series finale.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Mike Soroka

Braves taking safe approach with Acuna's rehab

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Though he is still progressing through the early stages of reintroducing himself to baseball activities, Ronald Acuna Jr. says he's ready to begin playing in games. This is the kind of eager anticipation expected from a 20-year-old phenom who has been sidelined for the past two weeks.

But as the Braves are providing indication Acuna might be at least a week away from rejoining their lineup, they are maintaining the cautious, responsible approach expected from a team with an immensely talented player.

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ATLANTA -- Though he is still progressing through the early stages of reintroducing himself to baseball activities, Ronald Acuna Jr. says he's ready to begin playing in games. This is the kind of eager anticipation expected from a 20-year-old phenom who has been sidelined for the past two weeks.

But as the Braves are providing indication Acuna might be at least a week away from rejoining their lineup, they are maintaining the cautious, responsible approach expected from a team with an immensely talented player.

View Full Game Coverage

"I'm glad he's feeling good and everything is heading in the right direction," Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked about MLB Pipeline's top overall prospect.

When told Acuna hopes to begin playing in Minor League rehab games at some point this weekend, Snitker chuckled and said, "He's not going to make that decision."

The Braves have not determined when Acuna might begin playing Minor League rehab games. The young outfielder has spent the past few days steadily increasing his activities and effort level while completing baseball exercises. But Acuna did not take batting practice on the field with the Braves before Tuesday night's game against the Mets and has not yet tested his left knee by rounding the bases or making throws closer to game speed.

Video: NYM@ATL: Acuna Jr. placed on DL with mild ACL sprain

Acuna will enhance his activity over the next few days. There's certainly a chance he could begin playing in Minor League games before the end of the upcoming weekend. If all goes well, he could be activated from the disabled list at some point next week.

"If it was up to me, I'd be ready to play tomorrow," Acuna said. "But I think we're just taking the right steps and going through the process. It's their decision and I'm going to follow it."

Acuna's running exercises have been limited to sprints and other straight patterns. He says he hasn't felt any recent soreness. But the Braves are taking caution as the Venezuelan native recovers from the sprained left anterior cruciate ligament he sustained when his cleat got caught a step or two after he crossed first base during an infield single on May 27 at Fenway Park.

Given how his left leg buckled, there were initial fears he might have sustained a season-ending injury.

"He hasn't done rigorous baseball stuff yet," Snitker said. "But he's trending in that direction. I've seen the video of him running and doing all that kind of stuff. That's really good. From what I witnessed in Boston, that's unbelievable he's doing as good as he is right now."

Acuna hit .265 with five home runs and a .779 OPS as he played just 29 games before sustaining the injury. Still, the widespread appreciation of his talent was seen on Monday, when All-Star balloting results showed he had garnered the fifth-most votes among National League outfielders.

Odds and ends
• As Julio Teheran completed a bullpen session on Tuesday, he focused on how his previously bruised right thumb reacted to the pressure placed on it as he threw breaking balls. The Braves have not yet decided if Teheran will come off the disabled list to make Friday's start against the Padres.

• Snitker says he has just stuck with the hot hand as he has given Charlie Culberson a majority of the starts in left field since Acuna went on the disabled list. Preston Tucker has started just four of the 15 games Acuna has missed.

Parking update
Because Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Mets begins at 12:10 p.m. ET, parking in all stadium lots will be reserved to those fans with a permit. The Braves have asked fans to either purchase a parking pass or use Uber. The only lots available for pre-purchase are North Atlanta High School (East 68) and Cumberland Community Church. To purchase a pass visit braves.com/parking.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.

After Stewart, Braves stockpile college players

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Despite the many questions the Braves had about the effects of the penalties put on the organization back in November, Atlanta feels that, overall, the selections made in the 2018 Draft will be successful ones.

• Braves Draft Tracker

ATLANTA -- Despite the many questions the Braves had about the effects of the penalties put on the organization back in November, Atlanta feels that, overall, the selections made in the 2018 Draft will be successful ones.

• Braves Draft Tracker

"We were able to do the best with what we had," Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said. "I think as a group, collectively with the leadership of Alex [Anthopoulos, the general manager and executive vice president], the calming demeanor that he has to get us in the position to make the best available picks that we could, I totally agree with that 100 percent."

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

MLB penalized Atlanta at the end of 2017, when it found that the Braves had circumvented the international signing rules during each of the past three signing periods.

The penalties included taking away 13 of the Braves' international prospects and Atlanta's third-round pick in the 2018 Draft. MLB also prohibited the signing of any international player by the Braves for more that $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period, and Atlanta's international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

With the restrictions put on the Braves, the 2018 Draft came with its challenges, not the least of which is signing as many players as possible to fill the hole left by the forfeited international prospects.

"When you are not expecting to lose 13 players, then you lose 13 players, it's tough to make up the ground," Bridges said. "It sets your organization back, so what you do is you try to jump-start it and infiltrate it with players who have the ability and upside."

This meant going after college players. When the dust settled on the 2018 Draft, 34 out of the Braves' 39 picks were college players. After taking Carter Stewart with pick No. 8, the Braves selected only one high school senior before the final three rounds: right-handed pitcher Victor Vodnik from Rialto High School in California, in the 14th round.

Video: Draft 2018: Stewart on being 8th overall pick

It was a fully planned strategy.

"What we did is we went with college guys that had some upside," Bridges said. "It's not every year you can go the prep way so you kind of have to deal with the hand you're dealt."

And while drafting big names like Stewart in the first and Greyson Jenista in the second round -- as well as adding a few solid college arms on Wednesday -- the highlight of this year's Draft for the Braves came on Tuesday.

Video: Draft 2018: Braves draft OF Greyson Jenista No. 49

Being able to call out right-handed pitcher Tristan Beck's name in the fourth round was not just a moment for the Braves' organization -- it was the moment, made all the more nerve-racking and satisfying after not having a pick in the third round.

"Sitting and waiting and watching 33 players getting drafted before you can draft again and to have the talent like Tristan Beck available -- who wouldn't be excited?" Bridges said.

Video: Draft 2018: Braves draft RHP Tristan Beck No. 112

Overall, the Braves selected 22 pitchers (17 righties and five lefties), four catchers, four outfielders and nine infielders to complete their 39 picks in the 2018 Draft.

Below are some of the highlights from Rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.

Rounds 11-20
The Braves opened up the last day of the Draft by selecting their first left-handed pitcher of 2018, Jake Higginbotham, a starter from Clemson University. Higginbotham's 2016 season was cut short after a stress fracture which required surgery was found in his left elbow. The injury caused the southpaw to go 666 days without an appearance on the mound, missing the entirety of the 2017 season. He re-emerged in 2018 to go 6-1 through 16 starts, with an ERA of 3.47.

Greg Cullen was drafted in the 15th round by the Braves. The Niagara University shortstop posted a .458 batting average in 2018, good enough for the top spot among NCAA Division I players. The Braves also took a pair of right-handed relievers in the 18th and 19th rounds in Cameran Kurz, of the University of California-San Diego, and Zach Daniels, of the University of Iowa. By the end of Day 3 of the Draft on Wednesday, the Braves had accumulated 12 right-handed pitchers to add to the five they'd drafted in the earlier rounds on Monday and Tuesday.

Rounds 21-30
Atlanta took a pair of catchers in Ray Soderman from the University of Oregon in the 22nd round and Rusber Estrada from Faulkner University in the 24th round. They also added another left-handed starter in Zach Guth from Harford, who went 10-0 through 11 starts while tallying 65 strikeouts in 2018.

Rounds 31-40
To round out Wednesday's selections, the Braves took Duke lefty Mitch Stalling, who is only the 15th pitcher in Duke's history to amass over 200 strikeouts in his college career. They added a right-handed hurler in LSU's Zack Hess in the 35th round. Baseball America voted Hess as the No. 10 prospect in the 2017 Cape Cod Summer League.

The Braves closed out the 2018 Draft in the 40th round by selecting Pinecrest Academy catcher Micky Mangan, son of longtime Braves groundskeeper Ed Mangan.

Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.

Atlanta Braves

Braves draft Beck among 4 Day 2 right-handers

MLB.com

The 2018 MLB Draft resumed on Tuesday afternoon with the Atlanta Braves taking four right-handed pitchers to add to their right-handed hurlers haul, where first-round pick Carter Stewart already sits.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Braves Draft pick

The 2018 MLB Draft resumed on Tuesday afternoon with the Atlanta Braves taking four right-handed pitchers to add to their right-handed hurlers haul, where first-round pick Carter Stewart already sits.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Braves Draft pick

"The funny thing is in this Draft more than any other Drafts, right-handed pitching is way more dominant than left-handed pitching," Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said. "We had targeted a left-handed pitcher along the way and it just didn't happen, you can't force feed picks. ... The ones we took we feel like they are the best available players that were left."

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Since the Braves did not have a pick in the third round of the Draft on Tuesday, Atlanta's picks from Rounds 4-10 are broken down below.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.

Round 4: RHP Tristan Beck, Stanford
The Stanford right-hander is no stranger to adversity, nor to the Braves' radar. Having been drafted out of high school in 2015 in the 34th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, Beck went into the Draft set on following through with his commitment to Stanford.

"We had targeted [Beck] my first year as director with our second pick of the first round, pick 28 [in 2015]," Bridges recalled. "He chose to go to Stanford, which the next player in line was Mike Soroka. So, now looking back, I've got both of them and it just took three years."

In his first year at Stanford, Beck posted a 2.48 ERA through 83 innings with 76 strikeouts. However, a stress fracture to Beck's back last year kept him off the mound for the entirety of the 2017 season. But, according Bridges, Beck was always in the back of his mind.

Despite the injury, Beck was drafted in the 29th round that year by the New York Yankees, but thought there was still much to be done at Stanford.

Beck made a strong comeback throughout the 2018 season, posting an 8-4 record in 15 starts with Stanford. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder's fastball has recently around 90-93 mph with an 80-82 mph curveball and an effective slider. Bridges said the Braves were lucky to pick Beck up when they did.

"He's smart, he's going to understand a game plan. There's a lot of comfort with him," Bridges said. "Definitely landing that kind of talent in the fourth round, we were lucky to be in that situation whereas somebody else would have taken him, we would have had to push other players up which would have been tough."

Round 5: RHP Trey Riley, John A. Logan College
Baseball America's top pitching prospect out of Illinois has been lights-out for John A. Logan College in 2018. The right-hander is currently ninth in the nation in strikeouts among NJCAA Division I pitchers, with 117 strikeouts through the 2018 season. Riley throws a four-pitch mix, relying mostly on a fastball in the mid-90s and a slider that sits in the upper-80s.

"Trey has an electric arm," Logan head coach Kyle Surprenant said. "A large part of Trey's upside is his athleticism. He has a great feel for his body, which I think will allow him to make adjustments when needed."

Riley's father, P.J., was taken by the Houston Astros in the 15th round of the 1989 Draft.

Riley announced his transfer from John A. Logan College to Missouri State in November.

Round 6: OF Andrew Moritz, UNC Greensboro
The junior center fielder from UNC Greensboro was named the Player of the Year for the Southern Conference after hitting 23 extra-base hits with 61 RBIs and a .428 average. Moritz is all about consistency in the box having led the conference in on-base percentage and triples.

With a $280,400 pick value, Moritz could potentially surpass Jermaine Mitchell, who went to the Athletics in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft, as the highest-drafted position player to come out of UNC Greensboro.

Round 7: RHP Brooks Wilson, Stetson
For a guy who spent very little time as a closer before the start of the 2018 season, Wilson made a name for himself with the Hatters. Wilson became the 25th player in NCAA history to tally 20 saves in a season. Stetson usually found a way to win when Wilson was on the mound, going 29-2 when Wilson made an appearance.

"We wouldn't be where we are without him," Stetson head coach Steve Trimper said. "The Braves are getting the ultimate competitor."

Wilson's 309 career strikeouts ranks him fifth in Stetson history and fifth among all active players in Division I in strikeouts. The starter-turned-closer's success comes from his strikeout pitch; a split-finger fastball that Trimper calls his "wipeout" pitch.

Wilson was also well known at Stetson for his two-way playing ability, used usually as a DH and first baseman throughout 2018. From the left side of the plate, Wilson drove in a team-best 18 runs through 18 conference games with a .307 batting average.

Round 8: SS AJ Graffanino, University of Washington
The son of former Major League infielder Tony Graffanino was the Braves' 232nd overall pick on Tuesday. AJ Graffanino hit .422 with 11 RBIs in his first 13 games back from a hamstring injury that kept him off the field for 32 games with the Huskies this year.

"Bloodlines, left-handed bat, middle infielder, [6-foot-3], has some projection left," Bridges listed. "You really want to go after those guys who have that upside. Plus, he's young for the class."

Video: Draft 2018: Braves draft SS AJ Graffanino No. 232

Like his son, Tony was also drafted by the Braves, having been picked up in the 10th round of the 1990 Draft. After working his way through the Minors, he spent three seasons with the Braves at second base. Tony retired in 2009 after 13 years in the Majors.

AJ Graffanino has made a few starts at second base, like his father before him, after returning from his hamstring injury this season at Washington but has showed interest in remaining at shortstop in the future.

"I talked to him today on the phone and he would like to move back to shortstop," Bridges confirmed. "He made the statement on the phone: 'You won't regret taking me,'"

Round 9: RHP Ryan Shetter, Texas Tech
The fourth, and final, right-handed hurler to be picked by the Braves on Tuesday has greatly improved his ERA over his three seasons at Texas Tech. Shetter ended his stint as a freshman with a 4.02 ERA before dropping it to 3.71 as a sophomore. As a seasoned junior, Shetter's ERA continued to fall to 2.97 by the end of the 2018 season.

In his second year with Texas Tech, Shetter worked mainly as a starter through 15 appearances, but moved to more of a bullpen role in 2018, making only eight starts.

Round 10: 3B Brett Langhorne, Carson Newman
After spending his first two seasons at the University of Tennessee, Langhorne transferred to Carson Newman in 2017, when he tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 17 and put together a .323 average with 35 RBIs.

Langhorne's father, Meade, played professionally in the Kansas City Royals organization. Now, Meade is a hitting instructor for the Richmond Braves National Team.

Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego.

Atlanta Braves

Braves draft RHP Stewart, OF Jenista on Day 1

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Carter Stewart vaulted to the top of the Braves' Draft board when he grew two inches and added 30 pounds to what is now an athletic 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame. But the additional velocity gained from this growth spurt might always be regarded as a complement to what is considered an elite curveball.

"The breaking ball was so special," scouting director Brian Bridges said. "They don't come along. You always look for that one thing, whether it be a power pitch or a big-time breaking ball. God willing that he stays healthy, it's the one thing he'll always have. And you'll be talking, when he makes his debut, about that big hammer."

ATLANTA -- Carter Stewart vaulted to the top of the Braves' Draft board when he grew two inches and added 30 pounds to what is now an athletic 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame. But the additional velocity gained from this growth spurt might always be regarded as a complement to what is considered an elite curveball.

"The breaking ball was so special," scouting director Brian Bridges said. "They don't come along. You always look for that one thing, whether it be a power pitch or a big-time breaking ball. God willing that he stays healthy, it's the one thing he'll always have. And you'll be talking, when he makes his debut, about that big hammer."

Draft Tracker: Follow every Braves Draft pick

Stewart became the latest candidate to join Atlanta's fraternity of talent-rich pitching prospects on Monday night, when the Braves took him with the eighth overall selection in this year's MLB Draft. The 18-year-old right-hander from the Melbourne, Fla., area was considered the best available high school pitcher and ranked as MLB Pipeline's fifth-best overall prospect.

"I'd say for about a week or so now I've felt like the Braves were definitely a high possibility [to] draft me," Stewart said. "When they called my name, it was definitely a surreal feeling. It was really exciting."

Video: ATL@SD: Braves broadcast on drafting Stewart at No. 8

With their second-round pick (49th overall), the Braves took Wichita State outfielder Greyson Jenista, who was named last summer's Cape Cod League's MVP. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound left-handed hitter's bid to join teammate Alec Bohm (3rd pick, Phillies) as a first-round selection faded as he hit .309 with nine home runs in 56 games this year.

"This guy has unbelievable power," Bridges said. "It's real power. He's a better hitter. I think a little Draft-itis was bothering him this year. He was trying too hard, and pressing."

The Braves kept an open mind as they spent the past few months focused on finding the best prospect who would be available when it came time for them to pick, bringing South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty (10th pick, Pirates) and high school third baseman Nolan Gorman (19th pick, Cardinals) to Atlanta for workouts last week.

Video: Draft 2018: Braves draft OF Greyson Jenista No. 49

But for the fourth straight year, Bridges determined that a pitcher was the best available option for first pick. The team's past three top picks -- Kyle Wright (2017), Ian Anderson (2016) and Kolby Allard (2015) -- are among the seven pitchers listed within MLB Pipeline's top 10 Braves prospects.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Stewart will likely join this group once he signs. The Mississippi State commit said there should not be any signability issues.

"You have to commit to something," Bridges said. "So, whatever you're going to commit to, you better buy all into it. There are no guarantees about how things are going to end. It's a long journey for pitchers. But the more volume you have of quality pitchers, the more chance you have to sustain when you start winning at the Major League level."

Stewart's curveball has generated a spin rate of more than 3,000 rpm, putting him in an elite category with such Major Leaguers as the Astros' Charlie Morton. But his stock truly rose when his growth spurt made him a legit power pitcher. His fastball sat 88-90 mph during last summer's showcase season, but his heater sat 92-94 and touched 98 mph this spring.

"I like to model myself after Justin Verlander a little bit, with his intensity and his ability to pitch," Stewart said. "I've been watching him for a long time, and I feel like that's one guy who I can definitely model myself after."

Stewart posted a 0.91 ERA and recorded 128 strikeouts over 61 2/3 innings during his senior season. He may have cemented his place with the Braves when he recorded 18 strikeouts and threw a no-hitter with cross-checker Tom Battista in attendance.

"I'm not going to see anybody any better, and I don't want to see him any worse," Battista told Bridges. "He's our guy."

As the Braves evaluated who to take with their second-round selection, they had their eye on University of Virginia left-hander Daniel Lynch until the Royals took him with the 36th pick. But they were happy to have a chance to add some power potential to the organization when Jenista was still available.

Jenista hit .320 with 14 doubles, one triple, nine home runs and six stolen bases during his sophomore season at Wichita State. He enhanced his stock last summer, when he batted .310, tallied three home runs and stole nine bases over 39 Cape Cod League games.

"We really like what he brings, definitely with the left-handed swing in our ballpark, gives us a potential to tap into that power," Bridges said. "You can't teach size, and you can't teach strength. You can't teach power. We ... get the most out of their abilities."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves

Early-round arms kind to Braves in recent Drafts

MLB.com

BOSTON -- The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.

Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

BOSTON -- The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.

Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Braves, whose first selection is the eighth overall pick.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

In about 50 words

Though the Braves might not be as fortunate as they were last year when Kyle Wright fell to them with the fifth overall pick, this Draft seems to set up to the team's tendencies, as it is rich with high school pitching talent. The organization is loaded in the pitching department, but when selecting this early it's always about taking the best available talent.

First-round buzz

MLB.com's Jim Callis recently projected the Braves will take Nolan Gorman, a high school third baseman from Phoenix, with their first selection. Gorman checks two boxes on the wish list, as he could fill the desire to enhance the organization 's depth at the hot corner and in the power-hitting department. Atlanta has also shown interest in left-hander Ryan Weathers, a high school pitcher from Tennessee. Weathers is the son of former Major Leaguer David Weathers.

Money matters

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax, plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

This year, the Braves have a pool of $8,267,300 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including 4,980,700 to spend on their first selection.

Shopping list

While the Braves will most likely add to their pitching crop within the first few rounds, there is a desire to fortify a catching crop that has slightly improved over the past few years. Look for the team to also attempt to add power potential with any position player that is targeted.

Trend watch

The Braves have taken a pitcher with their first selection each of the past three years and five of the past six. They have shown a preference toward high school arms. But there are a few collegiate arms available that could pique their interest, much like Wright did last year.

Rising fast

When the Braves took Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka with their first two picks of the 2015 Draft, they knew that both of these 17-year-old hurlers had a chance to be something special. Soroka made his Major League debut earlier this month and should come off the disabled list to rejoin Atlanta's rotation within the next couple weeks. Allard has impressed with Triple-A Gwinnett and could soon become the second 20-year-old hurler within the big league rotation.

The third selection in that year's Draft, Austin Riley could also become Atlanta's third baseman at some point this season.

Cinderella story

There is rightfully a lot of buzz regarding what the Braves did when they had five of the first 75 selections of the 2015 Draft -- Allard (14th overall), Soroka (28th overall), Riley (41st), Lucas Herbert (54th) and A.J. Minter (75th). But that class might provide more value in the form of right-handed reliever Evan Phillips, who was taken out of UNC-Wilmington in the 17th round. Phillips has posted a 1.42 ERA through his first 16 relief appearances for Gwinnett this year.

In the show

Freddie Freeman (2007, second round), Minter ('15, second round), Lucas Sims ('12, first round) and Soroka ('15, first round) are the former Braves' Draft choices who have remained with the organization throughout their respective careers and made appearances for Atlanta this year. Tyler Flowers was taken by the Braves in the 33rd round of the 2005 Draft, but spent time with the White Sox before returning to Atlanta's organization in '16.

The Braves' recent top picks

2017: Kyle Wright, RHP (Double-A Mississippi)
2016: Ian Anderson, RHP (Class A Advanced Florida)
2015: Kolby Allard, LHP (Triple-A Gwinnett)
2014: Braxton Davidson, OF (Class A Advanced Florida)
2013: Jason Hursh, RHP (Triple-A Gwinnett)

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves

Soroka on schedule for two more rehab starts

Right-hander throws 3 2/3 perfect innings on Friday for Class A Rome
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Mike Soroka completed his first Minor League rehab start in pain-free fashion. But the Braves are going to remain cautious with the young right-hander, who will likely remain on the disabled list over the next two weeks.

Soroka needed just 45 pitches to complete 3 2/3 perfect innings for Class A Rome on Friday night. This marked the first time the 20-year-old has pitched since he began to be bothered by right shoulder inflammation following his May 12 start in Miami.

View Full Game Coverage

ATLANTA -- Mike Soroka completed his first Minor League rehab start in pain-free fashion. But the Braves are going to remain cautious with the young right-hander, who will likely remain on the disabled list over the next two weeks.

Soroka needed just 45 pitches to complete 3 2/3 perfect innings for Class A Rome on Friday night. This marked the first time the 20-year-old has pitched since he began to be bothered by right shoulder inflammation following his May 12 start in Miami.

View Full Game Coverage

To allow Soroka to steadily regain his stamina and arm strength, the Braves plan to give him two more rehab starts. The first will be completed on Wednesday for Triple-A Gwinnett.

If Soroka, the Braves' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, remains on a regular schedule and makes what would be his third rehab start on June 11, he would be in line to rejoin Atlanta's rotation as early as June 16, when the Braves are scheduled to play the Padres in Atlanta.

Tweet from @TheRomeBraves: Mike Soroka (@Mike_Soroka28) reaches his pitch limit and walks off to a standing ovation. #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/ZgVtvJs4Kl

Luiz Gohara made one start in place of Soroka, but the lefty will likely be used as a reliever once he rejoins the Braves' staff. Gohara was scheduled to return to Atlanta on Saturday after spending the past weekend in Brazil with his mother, who recently underwent heart surgery.

Gohara's stint on the bereavement list expired after Wednesday night's game. The 21-year-old southpaw is now on the restricted list, which essentially means he will be on an unpaid leave of absence until he is placed back on Atlanta's roster.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Mike Soroka

Acuna has pep in step, but Braves using caution

Club purchases Bourjos' contract, options Peterson, releases Blair
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna Jr. had no trouble throwing his left leg over the railing to join in the celebration that followed Johan Camargo's walk-off home run Tuesday night. The young phenom has also walked around the Braves' clubhouse this week with no visible indication he is just a few days removed from what was initially feared to be a significant left knee injury.

"He feels good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He probably feels like he could go out there and play right now. But we're just going to evaluate him on a daily basis. We're not going to get him back out there [doing baseball activities] until we are sure he is ready."

View Full Game Coverage

ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna Jr. had no trouble throwing his left leg over the railing to join in the celebration that followed Johan Camargo's walk-off home run Tuesday night. The young phenom has also walked around the Braves' clubhouse this week with no visible indication he is just a few days removed from what was initially feared to be a significant left knee injury.

"He feels good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He probably feels like he could go out there and play right now. But we're just going to evaluate him on a daily basis. We're not going to get him back out there [doing baseball activities] until we are sure he is ready."

View Full Game Coverage

Acuna is baseball's top prospect per MLB Pipeline, and this week he could also be described as one of the game's most fortunate players. The 20-year-old outfielder's left leg buckled and turned awkwardly after he sprinted through first base with an infield single in Sunday's win over the Red Sox.

Immediate concerns about a possible season-ending injury were erased less than 24 hours later when a MRI exam showed just a mild strain of the left knee's anterior cruciate ligament.

There's a possibility Acuna could return to the Braves' lineup as early as June 8, for the start of a three-game series against the Dodgers. But Snitker said the team's medical staff has not yet targeted a date for Acuna to begin running, taking batting practice or any of the other steps he will need to take before being cleared to play again.

Bourjos returns
As Acuna was sidelined throughout this week's four-game set against the Mets, the Braves went without the availability of an outfielder they could have confidently put in center field had Ender Inciarte been injured during a game.

The team addressed this potential problem on Thursday, when Peter Bourjos' contract was purchased and Dustin Peterson was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Peterson was promoted to Atlanta on Monday, primarily because Bourjos was not eligible to be placed back on Atlanta's roster until Thursday.

Video: ATL@WSH: Bourjos hits go-ahead two-run single in 12th

The Braves released Bourjos on April 29 and re-signed him to a Minor League contract on May 1. A player who is released and re-signs with the club on a Minor League deal has to wait 30 days before being eligible to be added to that organization's Major League roster.

Bourjos hit .120 (3-for-25) in 18 games for Atlanta earlier this year. He'll be available to play center field if necessary and serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for left fielder Preston Tucker, who will likely get three starts this weekend as the Nationals are scheduled to start three right-handed pitchers.

Blair released
To create a 40-man roster spot for Bourjos, the Braves released right-handed pitcher Aaron Blair, who is currently recovering from right shoulder surgery.

Blair's rehab will be financially covered by the Braves and the team has already told the once highly regarded prospect there may be an interest in re-signing him next year.

In order to place Blair on the 60-day disabled list to create a roster spot, the Braves would have first had to recall him from Gwinnett's roster. Had they gone that route, the 26-year-old right-hander would have drawn a Major League salary and accrued service time as he spent the remainder of this season sidelined without any clear indication of when he might be healthy enough to pitch again.

Part of the package the Braves received from the D-backs in exchange for Shelby Miller after the 2015 season, Blair posted a 7.59 ERA in 15 starts for Atlanta in 2016. He made just one start at the Major League level last year and began this season with Gwinnett.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr.