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Ex-Astro Tucker compares Acuna to Correa

Displaced left fielder thinks five-tool phenom could have similar impact as Astros star
MLB.com @mlbbowman

CINCINNATI -- Having been a part of the Astros' organization when Carlos Correa made his Major League debut, Preston Tucker has a good understanding of the immediate impact Ronald Acuna Jr. could make, now that he's been called up to serve as a daily asset in the Braves' lineup.

So instead of sulking about the fact the start of the Acuna Era has ended his short stint as Atlanta's starting left fielder, Tucker was among the many Braves who excitedly welcomed Acuna as he prepared to make his much-anticipated Major League debut in Wednesday night's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

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CINCINNATI -- Having been a part of the Astros' organization when Carlos Correa made his Major League debut, Preston Tucker has a good understanding of the immediate impact Ronald Acuna Jr. could make, now that he's been called up to serve as a daily asset in the Braves' lineup.

So instead of sulking about the fact the start of the Acuna Era has ended his short stint as Atlanta's starting left fielder, Tucker was among the many Braves who excitedly welcomed Acuna as he prepared to make his much-anticipated Major League debut in Wednesday night's game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

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"I think it's very similar to when the Astros called up Correa," Tucker said. "I think that was really the turning point for [Houston's] new era. I think everybody obviously expects [Acuna] to produce and I feel that he will. So, hopefully we see a lot of that right off the bat. It would definitely get this team on a roll."

It remains to be seen whether Acuna will have a similar impact as Correa, who celebrated a World Series title two years after he joined Jose Altuve and George Springer in the Astros' lineup. But his arrival has made the Braves' lineup more formidable and created an opportunity for the bench to be strengthened by Tucker's left-handed power potential.

Tucker batted .300 (12-for-40) with three home runs and a .916 OPS through his first 14 games this season. But the 27-year-old outfielder has hit just .194 (6-for-31) with a .541 OPS over the past eight games, leaving little doubt that the time was right for the Braves to replace him with Acuna, a five-tool talent who MLB Pipeline considers to be baseball's top prospect after Shohei Ohtani.

"I've played multiple roles throughout every season I've played in," Tucker said. "I talked to [Braves manager Brian Snitker] and he said I'll get some starts and come off the bench. That's what I expected when I came out of Spring Training. So, I'm ready to adjust to whatever role they want me to play that day."

Snitker may soon have to have a similar candid conversation with Ryan Flaherty, who is in line to lose his role as the Braves' third baseman when Jose Bautista is promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett. There's a chance Bautista could debut with Atlanta before the end of this week. But the Braves are giving the two-time American League Hank Aaron Award winner all the time he needs to prepare and better acquaint himself with the hot corner.

Flaherty was leading the National League with a .362 batting average when the Braves opened their current series in Cincinnati on Monday. But the veteran infielder who entered this season with a .215 career batting average has since gone hitless in nine at-bats.

"I don't know when that is going to happen, if it is going to happen or anything like that," Snitker said in reference to Bautista's possible promotion. "You're talking about guys that are pros and who get it. They've been around. Right now, I'm just excited, Flaherty is doing as well as he is with his opportunities."

Childhood memories
Ender Inciarte vividly remembers his father taking him to games in Venezuela and pointing out how Ronald Acuna Sr. used to routinely hit line drives the other way. Inciarte came to appreciate the art of opposite-field hitting and he now relishes the opportunity to play alongside the son of the former Venezuelan star who caught his attention a couple decades ago.

"It's kind of funny that I get to play with his son," Inciarte said. "It means a lot to me [to play with a fellow Venezuelan]. Venezuela is growing a lot in baseball and we keep getting good players. I know he's a special guy. He's going to be another good representative for our country."

Roster news
When the Braves designated Peter Bourjos for assignment to create a roster spot for Acuna on Wednesday, they were hopeful the outfielder would go unclaimed on the waiver wire and eventually accept an assignment to Gwinnett.

There's less certainty regarding outfielder Lane Adams and relievers Rex Brothers and Josh Ravin, who all recently passed through waivers after being designated for assignment. They were each outrighted to Gwinnett on Wednesday. But because they had been previously outrighted, they have the right to reject an assignment to Gwinnett and enter free agency.

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

Atlanta Braves, Jose Bautista, Ryan Flaherty, Ender Inciarte, Ronald Acuna Jr., Preston Tucker