SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Playing on live TV in front of a national audience, Ronald Acuna turned the annual Military Appreciation Game into a personal showcase.The Braves' No. 1 prospect (MLB No. 5) hit a pair of homers, bringing his total to a league-leading seven, as Peoria topped Surprise, 11-10, in
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Playing on live TV in front of a national audience, Ronald Acuna turned the annual Military Appreciation Game into a personal showcase.
The Braves' No. 1 prospect (MLB No. 5) hit a pair of homers, bringing his total to a league-leading seven, as Peoria topped Surprise, 11-10, in a back-and-forth game on Saturday night.
The 19-year-old turned in a 20-40 season in 2017 and skyrocketed up the rankings as he slashed .325/.374/.522 with a career-high 21 homers and 82 RBIs across three levels.
Just as he passed every challenge during the regular season, Acuna has done the same in Arizona, hitting .329 through 19 games, after going 2-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs.
Acuna got the scoring started in the second inning as he led off the frame with a homer.
"The first thing that goes through my head is, 'Be ready to hit a fastball,' but eventually he threw me a changeup, but I was able to take advantage and hit a home run," Acuna said through translator Yoel Monzon.
Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3, MLB No. 48) and Michael Chavis (Red Sox's No. 2, MLB No. 92) followed up with RBIs of their own as Peoria raced out to a 4-0 lead. However, this night belonged to Acuna.
In his next at-bat, Acuna went deep again, driving in two runs and extending the lead to 6-0.
"I was looking for a fastball, he threw me a fastball and I took advantage [of it]," Acuna said.
Offense and home runs often garner the attention, but Acuna wasn't the only Atlanta prospect to impress.
Max Fried (Braves' No. 9) has thrown well throughout the Fall League, posting a 1.73 ERA through six starts, and he was lights-out once again.
"Just trusting my stuff, going out there -- obviously I had a really good end of year and just wanted to continue what I was doing," Fried said when asked what's made him so successful.
The 23-year-old lefty carved his way through three scoreless frames, throwing 22 of his 34 pitches for strikes. Fried, who spent the bulk of the season with Double-A Mississippi but made his Major League debut in September, gave up one hit, walked one and struck out three.
"I enjoy seeing him pitch," Acuna said. "He's very competitive, always gives it 100 percent and he's a great guy off the field. He's a great teammate."
For as good as Fried was, the rest of the Peoria pitching staff wasn't as sharp. Surprise broke out for seven runs in the fourth as Royals No. 11 prospect Nicky Lopez capped the inning with a grand slam, his second homer of the fall.
The Saguaros kept swinging hot bats into the fifth and struck for three more as Chris Paul (Twins), who finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, drove in two with a triple and scored on a passed ball.
The 10 consecutive runs seemed to put Surprise in control, but Peoria boasts a talented lineup and knew it had the power to come back.
"The energy in the dugout was the same," Acuna said. "We just stayed positive and believed in our team and that was the result."
Trailing, 10-6, in the eighth, Peoria tied the game in an inning that featured four hits and four walks. Jonathan Davis (Blue Jays) hit a two-run homer and the other two runs came courtesy of a bases-loaded walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Just as they did in the eighth, Peoria found a way to scratch across another run in the ninth as Austin Riley (Braves' No. 10) drove home the winning run on a fielder's choice.
William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.