Acuna caps sensational year with AFL MVP

Braves top prospect becomes youngest in Fall League history to win award

November 18th, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the 2017 season comes to a close, Ronald Acuna has one more piece of hardware to add to his trophy case.

The Braves' No. 1 prospect was named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League after he hit .325/.414/.639 and led the league with seven homers in 23 games for the Peoria Javelinas.

"I want to thank God for the opportunity and for winning MVP," Acuna said through translator Yoel Monzon before Saturday's Fall League championship game, in which he drove in four runs to lead the Peoria Javelinas to an 8-2 win.

"There's a lot of players here with a lot of talent and it's a privilege to be selected MVP."

:: 2017 Arizona Fall League championship game coverage ::

(Yankees No. 1, MLB No. 1) became the first teenager to win the award in 2016, but Acuna, who turns 20 in December, became the youngest prospect to hold the honor when he was presented with the Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award prior to Saturday's championship game at Scottsdale Stadium.

The MVP award is a fitting finale for Acuna as he caps off an incredible 2017 campaign that also saw him recognized as the Hitting Prospect of the Year.

The 19-year-old wasn't on MLB Pipeline's list of Top 100 Prospects to begin the season, but currently finds himself ranked No. 5 after slashing .325/.374/.522 with 21 homers, 82 RBIs and 44 stolen bases in 139 games across three levels in the regular season and following up that campaign with more gaudy numbers in the AFL.

After his breakout 2017, there was plenty of hype and expectation for Acuna as he entered the AFL, but -- as he's done so often this season -- he more than lived up it. Acuna finished the season on a five-game hitting streak and led the league in runs (22), extra-base hits (12) and total bases (53).

"I started a little bit slow and eventually I made a little bit of an adjustment," Acuna said. "The reason I started slow was I was coming from instructional league and I was a little bit tired. It's not an excuse, I just [needed] to make an adjustment and that's what this game is all about."

Throughout the AFL, Acuna showcased his wide array of skills. The teenager was named the AFL Player of the Week in Week 3 after hitting .475 (10-for-21). He demonstrated his plus arm with a strong throw from right field to home in the Fall Stars game. he hit a pair of homers on national TV in the Military Appreciation Game (one of two two-homer games during the AFL season). And he came through when it mattered, going 2-for-4 with four RBIs to propel Peoria to a win in the championship game.

Acuna is still young, but he's thrived at every level and passed every challenge thus far. After everything he accomplished in 2017, it's easy for Braves fans to envision Acuna in a Major League uniform -- a goal he hopes to accomplish in 2018.

"I'm going to continue working hard, doing my best and hopefully make the team next year in the big leagues," Acuna said.