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Inciarte's roundabout path leads to 1st ASG

MLB.com

MIAMI -- Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, known from tracking down baseballs. But the 26-year-old was completely caught off guard when he was dealt from the D-backs to Atlanta in a blockbuster trade at the 2015 Winter Meetings.

After settling in with Atlanta, Inciarte has since made the most of his opportunity, and he's now Atlanta's lone representative at the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Marlins Park.

MIAMI -- Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game, known from tracking down baseballs. But the 26-year-old was completely caught off guard when he was dealt from the D-backs to Atlanta in a blockbuster trade at the 2015 Winter Meetings.

After settling in with Atlanta, Inciarte has since made the most of his opportunity, and he's now Atlanta's lone representative at the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Marlins Park.

"When the Diamondbacks traded me, I was heartbroken," Inciarte said on Monday during the National League's media availability at Marlins Park. "I loved the Diamondbacks while I was there. My teammates, the ones I had in the Diamondbacks' system, I had a lot of fun over there. But when the trade happened and I got to meet my new teammates, my friends now, I got settled. I think that trade a huge difference in the player I am right now."

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A core part of the Braves' rebuild, Inciarte has made steady progress since coming to Atlanta. The left-handed-hitting and throwing outfielder from Venezuela entered the All-Star break with a slash line of .302/.350/.407 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.

His home run total already is a personal high, topping the six he posted in 2015, his final season with the D-backs.

"It took me a while to feel better and get used to the trade," Inciarte said. "It was good after the All-Star break last year. I started clicking things and getting better. Now I'm here because of the consistency I've had since last year."

After breaking in with the D-backs in 2014,and spending two seasons with the organization, Inciarte was part of the mega-deal that has reshaped the Braves. Along with Inciarte, shortstop Dansby Swanson and right-hander Aaron Blair went to Atlanta for right-hander Shelby Miller and left-handed relief prospect Gabe Speier.

Inciarte seemingly feels most comfortable when he is given a chance to fly under the radar and maintain an underdog status. It has become a little more difficult for him to do so as he has spent this past year proving to be one of baseball's most exciting defenders and an invaluable asset at the top of Atlanta's lineup.

This marks the first time the Braves outfielder has gained an All-Star selection, but his recent success has provided an indication this will not be his last.

Inciarte ranks third in the Majors with 112 hits, and his 2.5 fWARranked fourth among qualified NL outfielders.

Inciarte captured his first Gold Glove Award last year, when he made an MLB-high 11 five-star catches (catch probability, 0-25 percent) per Statcast™. Entering Sunday, he led the Majors again with three 5-star outs and ranked fourth with 10 4-star outs (catch probability, 26-50 percent).

Inciarte's rise is one reason the Braves are a surprise team, currently second in the National League East with a 42-45 record, 9 1/2 games behind Washington.

The Braves are regarded as a team on the rise, and there's a renewed excitement level around the club during their inaugural year at SunTrust Park.

"The fans in Atlanta love the new ballpark," Inciarte said. "Every time you step on the field in that new ballpark, you feel a lot of energy and you want to play more. Of course, you want to only play nine innings, but you feel like you want to be here all day."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves