ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker would have liked to have already gained the opportunity to put Ronald Acuna Jr. in his lineup on a daily basis. But Snitker recognizes the need to allow the top prospect to first work his way through an early slump, which might be a
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker would have liked to have already gained the opportunity to put Ronald Acuna Jr. in his lineup on a daily basis. But Snitker recognizes the need to allow the top prospect to first work his way through an early slump, which might be a product of trying to do too much.
"I think the biggest thing with him is he's just trying too hard," Snitker said. "He's pressing. He'll be fine. We had these guys ready to play and then they were down for nine days. Then they get bad weather and had games cancelled. They haven't had any routine at all."
Acuna entered Monday night hitting .152 (5-for-33) with one extra-base hit and 12 strikeouts. But it's not just the results that are delaying his arrival. It's the fact that he has produced these stats while playing just eight games over the course of the past 19 days. The scarcity of action came as a result of Gwinnett's season opener occurring nine days after the last actual Spring Training game was played.
Over the past year, Acuna has surged after encountering a slow start. If he were to get hot over the next few days, there is certainly a chance he could debut before the Braves' homestand concludes on Sunday.
"He's human," Snitker said. "He wants to do well. He's a young kid who is very talented. He's not the only one down there who is feeling that way. I don't think there is anything to worry about."
When this season started, the Braves were certainly open to the idea of allowing Acuna to debut either during this past weekend's series at Wrigley Field or during Monday night's home game against the Phillies. But his much-anticipated arrival has been delayed as the 20-year-old outfielder has gotten off to another slow start.
There was certainly a benefit to Acuna remaining at the Minor League level through at least Friday. By keeping him off their roster through that date, the Braves gained an extra year of contract control.
But given the fact there is no desire to keep Acuna down long enough to avoid him gaining an extra arbitration-eligible season by qualifying for Super Two status, there is not any real reason for the Braves to keep Acuna in the Minors, other than to provide him a chance to make all the preparations necessary to increase the odds he'll encounter immediate success once he reaches the Majors.
When a reporter mentioned Johan Camargo entered Monday with a home run in three of his past four games for Gwinnett, Snitker said, "That's good, I don't know if there [are any other hits other than] the homers."
Camargo entered Monday having gone 4-for-27 through his first seven Minor League rehab games. His slow start could also be a product of what was an even longer layoff. Before playing for Class A Advanced Florida on April 5, the versatile infielder had not played in a game since he strained his right oblique muscle on March 13.
"He's just getting some repetitions and game at-bats on a daily basis," Snitker said. "Physically, he's fine. Again, we're not forced to rush him up here right now. We'll likely reassess that as the week goes."
With Ryan Flaherty providing daily value at third base, the Braves do not currently have a definitive need to activate Camargo from the disabled list. But maybe just as importantly, a tough decision will need to be made once he is activated. The two most likely roster casualties are Lane Adams and Charlie Culberson, who are both out of Minor League options.
Once Acuna and Camargo are both deemed ready to join Atlanta's roster, the Braves may need to make those tough decisions regarding both Adams and Culberson. But for now, the team will at least wait to see if the landscape changes before it's time to add Acuna and Camargo to the 25-man roster.
Flowers nearing a return
When catcher Tyler Flowers strained his left oblique muscle during his second-inning plate appearance on Opening Day, there was some concern he might be sidelined through the first couple weeks of May. But Flowers has made good progress and might begin a Minor League rehab assignment by the end of this week. This at least sets up the possibility he could be activated during the Braves' next road trip, which runs from April 23-May 3.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.