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Acuna continues tear with three-hit day

Kazmir scratched with minor jaw issue; Minter maintains perfect spring ERA
Special to MLB.com

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. continued his torrid dominance over Grapefruit League pitching Sunday in the Braves' 6-3 win against the defending World Series champion Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The 20-year-old Acuna, the Braves' top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 3-for-5 to raise his batting average this spring to .432. He had an RBI single -- his 11th RBI -- in the top of the third that accounted for Atlanta's first run, and he also scored twice.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. continued his torrid dominance over Grapefruit League pitching Sunday in the Braves' 6-3 win against the defending World Series champion Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The 20-year-old Acuna, the Braves' top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went 3-for-5 to raise his batting average this spring to .432. He had an RBI single -- his 11th RBI -- in the top of the third that accounted for Atlanta's first run, and he also scored twice.

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"He's a pretty good player," Braves manager Brian Snitker said with a smile.

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Acuna is making a very compelling case to be included on the Opening Day roster. Although it's likely he will start the season in the Minors, an April callup certainly appears on the horizon.

Acuna started last season at Class A, but he was promoted to Double-A and then the Braves' Triple-A affiliate (Gwinnett), so his rise through the Minors has been somewhat meteoric.

"Who knows?" Snitker said when asked what he thinks the ceiling is for Acuna, who had a .325 batting average with 21 homers and 82 RBIs last season with three teams. "He's really had limited Minor League experience. In this day and age, nobody's sneaking up on anybody anymore, so it's tough for these guys."

Which makes Acuna's ascent more impressive.

Video: ATL@HOU: Sanchez strikes out Gonzalez in Braves debut

Kazmir scratched from start

Scott Kazmir was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday against the Astros after he was hit on his left jaw with an errantly thrown ball during a workout at camp on Friday.

"Kind of a freaky thing. Nothing serious," Snitker said of Kazmir's injury. "He got hit in the jaw with a ball. I don't know if he, like, looked at a bird or what. I don't know how. He never really got specific."

Snitker said that it's "day to day as when [Kazmir's] going to pitch again," but he said it's possible that he might pitch in a Minor League game on Monday.

Kazmir, who was replaced Sunday by recently acquired Anibal Sanchez, is in the mix for a spot in the rotation. The 34-year-old lefty has a 4.66 ERA in 9 2/3 innings over four starts this spring. He has allowed five earned runs combined in his past two Grapefruit League starts after tossing three shutout innings over his first two.

Video: ATL@HOU: Minter strikes out Correa to K the side

Mint(er) condition

A.J. Minter pitched the fifth inning in relief of Sanchez and recorded all three outs with a strikeout, allowing only a single to Jose Altuve. Minter has a perfect 0.00 ERA over 6 1/3 innings in six appearances out of the bullpen this spring. He's allowed six hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.

"He's had a good spring, quietly, too," Snitker said of Minter. "He's been healthy, and that's a big thing for him. It was kind of a rehab year for him last year. He came to camp with no strings on him or anything, and he looks really good."

Video: ATL@HOU: Santana makes a great throw to nab Marisnick

You're outta there

Right-fielder Danny Santana showed off his arm with a defensive gem in the third inning. Santana cleanly fielded a single to right by the Astros' George Springer and fired a perfect one-hop strike to third baseman Sean Kazmar Jr. to nail Jake Marisnick, who had walked and was trying to advance to third on the hit.

Up next

The Braves return to Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista on Monday to face the Blue Jays in a 1:05 p.m. ET game on Gameday Audio to begin the final full week of Grapefruit League play. Julio Teheran will make his fifth spring start after working five innings and giving up only two runs against the Phillies last Wednesday to notch his third win this spring.

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com.

Atlanta Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr., Scott Kazmir, A.J. Minter