Riley, Braves prospects break out bats in AFL win

October 12th, 2017

MESA, Ariz. -- Austin Riley may be a slow starter in the regular season, but in the Arizona Fall League, he seems to have found his rhythm almost immediately.

After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first AFL game action, Riley had a huge game offensively and led Peoria to a 10-9 win over Mesa on Thursday afternoon.

Box score

Riley, the Braves' No. 10 prospect, went 3-for-5 with four RBIs including a two-run homer in the third.

"It was nice, it felt good," Riley said. "Happy I could get some hits … that was my first time seeing live pitching since the end of the season, so I think [the first game] was a timing thing."

Riley, 20, hit .275/.339/.446 across 129 games with Class A Advanced Florida and Double-A Mississippi, including a .315 average in 48 games after he was promoted to Mississippi.

"I'm notorious for starting slow and I did again this year, but I picked it up as the season went on," Riley said. "I got better with cutting down the strikeouts, bringing the walks up."

While Riley has always been able to hit, his game has had swing and miss, something he was able to cut down this season. After striking out in 27.1 percent of his at-bats in 2016, Riley struck out in 21.8 percent of his at-bats with Florida and in 24.6 percent with Mississippi.

Riley credits his improved numbers to an increased understanding of both his swing and the mental side of baseball.

The Javelinas wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as they jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Braves' No. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna (MLB No. 5), who left the game in the second inning with a left forearm contusion after being hit with a pitch, scored the first run of the game on a base hit from Seattle's Eric Filia.

After the game, Peoria manager Luis Salazar suggested Acuna's injury was not serious. "He's fine. It looked very bad, but he's day-to-day.

"He might be back Saturday, depends how he feels."

(Braves' No. 16) plated a run and Riley followed up with his first hit of the game, an RBI single, to cap the inning.

The offense didn't stop there as Peoria scratched across two more runs in second as Filia, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, drove in another and Chad De La Guerra (Red Sox's No. 24) collected an RBI double.

From there, Riley took over.

The 2015 Draft pick, who hit 20 homers for the second consecutive season in 2017, continued Peoria's offensive parade with his first homer of the Fall League, a two-run blast out to left-center in the third and later added another RBI with a single in the fifth.

"He had a very good day at the plate, he was patient and got a pitch he could drive," Salazar said.

The Solar Sox put up four runs in the second as each of the first four batters reached and scored in the inning. Daniel Johnson (Nationals No. 10), who also stole two bases, drove in the first two runs. Johnson, who finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs, also singled and scored in the eighth as part of a five-run rally, but ultimately the Solar Sox were unable to come back.

Astros No. 1 prospect Kyle Tucker (MLB No. 7) also drove in a run in the eighth.