Acuña's brother carving own path with Rangers

March 5th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- When Luisangel Acuña is at the plate, it’s easy to recognize the stance and the swing. That's because it’s all strikingly similar to his famous sibling, Ronald.

The two are alike in a few ways, especially their approach at the plate. Even their stutter-step home run celebrations are alike.

But that’s about where the similarities end. Luisangel, the Rangers' No. 8 prospect, is a lot smaller (5-foot-10 compared to the 6-foot Braves star) and hasn’t yet filled out his frame for power. Positionally, Luisangel is a middle infielder instead of an outfielder.

Regardless of the difference or similarities between the two, Luisangel Acuña is working his way through the Rangers’ Minor League system hoping to follow in his brother’s big league footsteps.

At just 19 years old in 2021, Acuña was assigned to Low-A Down East, where he experienced his first taste of professional ball stateside. In 111 games, he slashed .266/.345/.404 with a .749 OPS.

Though he had just 12 homers, Acuña has demonstrated an advanced control of the strike zone that will no doubt help him succeed down the line.

“I think the power is coming,” said Wood Ducks manager Carlos Cardoza. “If you talk to hitting guys, the power is a lot of the time the last thing that develops. I think because he has the control of the zone, everything else is going to come. It's in there, and it's gonna come out.”

The Rangers signed Acuña out of Venezuela in 2018 for $425,000, and he’s been up to the challenge ever since.

Acuña dominated the pitching in the Dominican in 2019, slashing .342/.438/.455 with a .893 OPS in his professional debut. But like many Minor Leaguers, he missed out on a year of development with the pandemic in ‘20. Acuña said he prepared through that entire year so he would be ready when Minor League baseball returned.

Cardoza said 2021 with the Wood Ducks was a year of growth for Acuña as he watched the prospect deal with the ups and downs of a full professional season in a new country.

“I think he learned a lot about himself,” Cardoza explained. “He talked about the importance of a routine and staying steadfast to that routine. I think he’s made some great strides both defensively and offensively. It was just a year of a lot of growth and a lot of success. The most important thing I see is what he learned and what he can take into this next year, hopefully playing at a higher level.”

Acuña, like many of the Rangers’ middle-infield prospects, finds himself at a roadblock with the club committing to shortstop Corey Seager on a 10-year deal and second baseman Marcus Semien to a seven-year deal.

While Acuña is still years from the big leagues, he is still up for the challenge and competing at the position day in and day out.

“2021 was a season of highs and lows,” Acuña said with Cardoza interpreting. “I was working and controlling the things I could control and ultimately felt like I had a good year. ... I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Just working hard, focusing on my work, and I’m going to keep putting my best foot forward and the rest is in God's hands.”