The media's so quick to anoint a player as the greatest or a future Hall of Famer, but who knows what the future holds for Braves young superstar Ronald Acuna? Some have already called him the second-best Venezuelan MLB player in history and he just completed his first regular season. MLB's last Triple Crown King was Venezuelan too and it will be some time before Acuna can duplicate Miguel Cabrera's immortal career.
We shouldn't even be comparing Acuna Jr. to Cabrera, but in today’s instant information age, we don't even give players a chance to develop. If they start off too hot, then the expectations become unreasonable. If a player doesn't come right out of the gate posting All-Star numbers, they are considered a bust.
Acuna hit the diamond running and crushing.
Within a span of four years Venezuelan superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. has gone from signing with the Atlanta Braves for $100,000 as a 16-year-old international free agent, to a 19-year-old Class A player, to an anointed future baby bomber who ranked second on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, to a 20-year-old All-Star for an 80-win Atlanta Braves squad that leads the NL East after four-straight losing seasons.
That’s why we should just enjoy the ride that Acuna and the young, talented Atlanta Bravesare on. The team has arrived early by winning the NL East and are hanging tough with the Dodgers, trailing the defending NL champs 2-1 in the best-of-five National League Division Series.
Acuna's magnificence was again on full display Sunday night as the rookie became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the postseason.
The 20-year-old caught lumber in the second-inning homer of the Braves' 6-5 victory in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Sunday night. The homer helped the Braves stave off elimination and move onto a pivotal Game 4.
This is not a drill. @ronaldacunajr24, GRAND SLAM. 😱😱😱 https://t.co/kbPCTF2FSZ
Acuna’s jolt also puts him in some elite company. The previous youngest hitter with a postseason grand slam was legendary Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who was 21 when he accomplished the feat against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the ‘53 World Series.
He’s becoming an instant legend on social media and the fanatics are closing in.
If Acuña slams this I will tattoo his face on my forearm NO LIE #ForEachOther
The expectations for Acuna will continue to soar in these early stages of his career, but it’s too early to predict his future. He’s proved he has all the tools, charisma and a flair for the dramatic, so he's on a path to becoming one of MLB's future faces.
As MLB clubs and pitchers gather more date on Acuna and develop more strategies and ways to pitch to him, Acuna will also have to adjust and he might experience some difficult periods, but for now, he's like a shooting star that burst on the scene.
The baseball world wasn't prepared for what Acuna Jr. would accomplish last night.
Youngest to hit postseason grand slam: ATL Ronald Acuña, 2018 NLDS 3 vs LAD (20-293) NYY Mickey Mantle, 1953 WS 5 at BKN (21-349) CHC Addison Russell, 2016 WS 6 at CLE (22-283) NYY Gil McDougald, 1951 WS 5 at NYG (23-143) CLE Francisco Lindor, 2017 ALDS 2 vs NYY (23-326)
Rarely do we get the opportunity to see a five-star rookie flex his fury on the playoff stage. Let’s just enjoy the ride and leave the 10-year projections to those permanently entrenched in hyperbole.