CINCINNATI -- During the Braves' rebuild, Freddie Freeman would anticipate days like this, when he could look out on the field and once again see a Braves team filled with young, talented players capable of creating energy and excitement.Ronald Acuna Jr. is perhaps the most exciting piece, and the No.
CINCINNATI -- During the Braves' rebuild, Freddie Freeman would anticipate days like this, when he could look out on the field and once again see a Braves team filled with young, talented players capable of creating energy and excitement.
Ronald Acuna Jr. is perhaps the most exciting piece, and the No. 2 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, made his much-anticipated Major League debut during Wednesday night's 5-4 comeback win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
But as Johan Camargo drove in the game-winning run in the ninth and Ozzie Albies homered to strengthen his status as one of the game's top young players, it was apparent that Acuna is not the only light in a bright Braves future.
"They're all here," Freeman said. "It's what we've been waiting for. So, hopefully, we can put it all together and go on a good run here."
The Braves have been one of the most intriguing teams so far this season, and they have benefited from the speed that allows for aggressive baserunning. The latest display came from Acuna, the 20-year-old phenom who recorded his first career hit in the eighth -- a one-out single that snuck through the middle of the infield.
When Dansby Swanson followed with a single, Acuna displayed his elite speed, racing from first base to third at 30.3 feet per second, according to Statcast™. This put him in position to score on Kurt Suzuki's game-tying single off Kevin Shackelford.
"These guys are all looking to take the extra base and score that run," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It's really good when you have that ability."
With Acuna and the 21-year-old Albies, the Braves have the two youngest players in the Majors. The last time two members of a Braves starting lineup had a younger combined age than this duo was Oct. 4, 1964 -- shortstop Sandy Alomar (20) and third baseman Bill Southworth (18).
Albies has been one of the offense's key catalysts this season. The energetic second baseman snapped a 0-for-15 skid with a first-inning single that scored Ender Inciarte when second baseman Scooter Gennett made an errant throw into the Reds' dugout. Later, Albies drilled a fifth-inning homer that gave the Braves and Matt Wisler a short-lived 3-0 lead.
The solo shot off Brandon Finnegan was Albies' Major League-leading 17th extra-base hit, which ties Chipper Jones (1998), Dale Murphy (1985) and Justin Upton (2013) as the most ever by a Braves player before the end of April.
"There were a lot of good things that were happening," Freeman said. "There were a lot of fresh, young legs that were making things happen. It was a lot of fun to see from the dugout. When you have a lot of young guys making impacts that are big parts of the future, it's exciting and it's fun to come to the yard every day."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Clutch opportunities: In his first start of the season on Saturday, Camargo delivered a ninth-inning, game-tying triple. In his second start on Thursday, he produced a game-winning, ninth-inning RBI double that caromed off shortstop Cliff Pennington and landed in left field.
"He hit it perfect," Snitker said. "That was a good at-bat. If you put it in play, good things can happen."
First save: Because Arodys Vizcaino had pitched Tuesday and there was a need to have him available for Thursday afternoon's game, Snitker gave the ninth inning to A.J. Minter, who notched his first career save. His scoreless effort ended with Inciarte going back and having to right himself before snaring Adam Duvall's long drive in front of the center-field wall.
Snitker said there might be other instances where matchups or workload lead him to use Minter as his closer.
"I hope we see Minter [closing] a lot, because that means we're using a lot of guys and we're doing well," Snitker said. "I've got no problem going with the matchups with him and Viz and not wearing one guy out."
Costly mistake: Wisler surrendered a lot of hard contact during the early innings, but he escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first and managed to keep the Reds scoreless until Joey Votto drilled a two-run homer in the fifth. It appeared he escaped further damage when Duvall was initially called out attempting to score from first base on Scott Schebler's double off the left-center-field wall. But a replay review showed catcher Carlos Perez did not apply a tag after receiving Swanson's throw well before Duvall reached the plate. Tucker Barnhart followed with a go-ahead double.
HE SAID IT
"You never know here. This place is every bit as haunted as Coors Field for me. I thought [Inciarte] was going to jump. I'm just glad he's so talented that he could shift gears in the middle of the jump." -- Snitker, on the game-ending play
Acuna will be back in the lineup when the Braves conclude their four-game series against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET. Sean Newcomb will attempt a fourth consecutive start of two earned runs or less when he takes the mound for Atlanta opposite Homer Bailey.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.