The wait appears to be over.
Ronald Acuña Jr. will reportedly join the Braves as they wrap up their series against the Reds on Wednesday in Cincinnati. The promotion was first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
The 20-year-old Venezuelan is expected to be the team’s starting left fielder. He’ll join an offense that is already fifth in the majors and first in the National League with 122 runs scored, and ranks second in the NL in batting average (.262), on-base percentage (.338) and slugging (.425).
Baseball America’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year, Acuña slashed .432/.519/.727 this spring, but was reassigned to minor-league camp for what was deemed “more development time.”
In delaying his arrival, the Braves guaranteed another year of club control for the outfielder, pushing back his free-agency eligibility until after the 2024 season.
The final two hits of Ronald Acuña Jr.’s minor-league career?
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) April 25, 2018
Acuña quickly rose from Class A to Triple A last season, as the right-hander hit .325/.374/.522 with 31 doubles, eight triples and 21 home runs and stole 44 bases. He did get off to a slow start at Triple-A Gwinnett this season, with a .232/.321/.304 slash line overall, but posted a .312 average over his last eight games, including his first home run of the year and a three-stolen base game.
Acuña, who won’t turn 21 until December, supplants Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (21 years and 108 days) as the youngest player in the majors. At 20 years, 128 days, Acuña will tie Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna as the third-youngest player to make his debut over the past five seasons, trailing only the Dodgers’ Julio Urias (19 years, 289 days), the Rangers’ Rougned Odor (20 years, 94 days) and the Nationals’ Victor Robles (20 years, 111 days).
Albies is sixth on that list after debuting on Aug. 1, 2017.
The 10 youngest players to debut since 2013. Ronald Acuña Jr. will tie for fourth on that list.
— Cory McCartney (@coryjmccartney) April 25, 2018
While taking Albies’ title as MLB’s youngest, Acuña is also expected to supplant Preston Tucker in the starting lineup.
Tucker surprised in hitting .435/.462/.783 through the team’s first seven games with two home runs and two doubles, but since then, his average has dipped to .167 with four extra-base hits in his last 44 plate appearances.
The left-hander will provide a power bat off the bench.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.