ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna has fast-tracked his way through the Braves' Minor League system, and he now stands just one step away from possibly reaching the Major League level as a teenager.
Arguably the most talented product within the Braves' rich pipeline, Acuna has been promoted from Double-A Mississippi to Triple-A Gwinnett. The 19-year-old outfielder, ranked No. 7 on the Braves' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLBPipeline.com, was scheduled to make his International League debut during Thursday night's game in Charlotte.
"It's been exciting to watch Ronald grow as a player throughout this transcendent season," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "We want to provide opportunities to our young players, and he's met every challenge. He's got such a bright future."
This has already been a memorable year for Acuna, who impressed when given a chance to face big league competition during Spring Training and then quickly gained a promotion after beginning the season with Class A Advanced Florida. He did not reach Mississippi until May, but still was chosen to compete in the Southern League All-Star Game.
Acuna, who has drawn comparisons to Andruw Jones, now finds himself on the same path the former Braves Gold Glove Award winner traveled in 1996, when he started at the Class A Advanced level and ended up hitting home runs in each of his first two at-bats of that year's World Series.
Acuna's stay at the Triple-A level will likely be longer than the one experienced by Jones, who played just 12 games in the International League before getting his call to the Majors. But this promotion indicates Atlanta is at least thinking about bringing Acuna to the big leagues when rosters expand in September.
Already considered a candidate to open next year as one of the Braves' starting outfielders, Acuna batted .326, tallied nine homers and constructed a .895 OPS over 57 games for Mississippi.
Though Acuna went hitless in four at-bats during Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, some scouts and talent evaluators considered him one of the most impressive participants in the event that featured many of baseball's top prospects.
Acuna produced the hardest-batted ball of the game, 112.3 mph -- an exit velocity that trumps any produced by any Atlanta Braves player this year. He also made three throws from the outfield that registered 92.9 mph, 95.2 mph and 96.7 mph.