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Going to Futures Game, Acuna's future bright

Outfielder joins fellow Braves prospect Soroka in All-Star Sunday event in Miami
MLB.com @mlbbowman

WASHINGTON -- After Ronald Acuna recorded two hits and displayed his defensive potential over the entirety of a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees in March, Braves manager Brian Snitker said, "If somebody would have seen him for the first time today, they might have thought he was our [big league] center fielder."

Though he is still five months shy of his 20th birthday, Acuna could certainly be one of Atlanta's starting outfielders by this time next year. The highly regarded prospect has drawn comparisons to Andruw Jones as he has soared through the Braves' farm system.

WASHINGTON -- After Ronald Acuna recorded two hits and displayed his defensive potential over the entirety of a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees in March, Braves manager Brian Snitker said, "If somebody would have seen him for the first time today, they might have thought he was our [big league] center fielder."

Though he is still five months shy of his 20th birthday, Acuna could certainly be one of Atlanta's starting outfielders by this time next year. The highly regarded prospect has drawn comparisons to Andruw Jones as he has soared through the Braves' farm system.

Acuna and right-handed pitcher Mike Soroka will leave their Double-A Mississippi teammates this weekend to participate in the 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which takes place today at 4 p.m. ET at Marlins Park in Miami and can be viewed live on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Video: Top Prospects: Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves

"He was fun to watch [in Spring Training]," Snitker said. "I was just impressed with how talented and aware that kid was. He was advanced for his age. He has the natural instinct and ability. He hasn't disappointed this year with that production and what he has done during that Minor League season."

:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::

Acuna has proven to be a significant bargain since signing with the Braves for just $100,000 in 2014. MLBPipeline ranks him as the game's 87th-best prospect and the seventh-best prospect in the Braves' system. His status on both lists could significantly improve when the rankings are updated later this month.

Though he missed most of his 2016 season with Class A Rome because of a thumb injury, Acuna had no trouble when he began this year with Class A Advanced Florida. He hit .287 and compiled an .814 OPS over 28 games before being promoted to Mississippi, where he stood with Soroka and left-handed pitcher Kolby Allard as the three youngest players in the Southern League.

Acuna has batted .315 with seven homers, 18 stolen bases and an .854 OPS through his first 52 games with Mississippi. He hit .415 (34-for-82) during his first 21 games in the Southern League, and then showed some encouraging poise as he hit .176 and compiled a .233 on-base percentage over the next 17 games.

"The biggest thing that stood out for me in the game was he's always ready to hit," said Braves reliever Rex Brothers, who played with Acuna at Mississippi this year. "To be that young and have that kind of approach and be able to attack the game the way he has is really impressive."

Dansby Swanson represented the Braves during last year's Futures Game, and then got his call to the Majors one month later. Acuna might not see the Majors this year. But like Soroka, who has posted a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts, he could certainly come to next year's Spring Training with legitimate hopes of being on Atlanta's Opening Day roster. Soroka is ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Atlanta's system and No. 64 in the game.

"The Braves have pushed [Acuna and Soroka], and they have responded," Snitker said. "That tells you something about the player and where they're at. We think a lot of them organizationally as Major Leaguers who are going to help us go where we want to go."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves