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Ronald Acuña Jr.: the present and future of the Major Leagues

The Venezuelan started the 2021 season in a huge way and at his young age, he is projected as one of the best baseball players in MLB history.

Ronald Acuña JR.

In a matter of two days, not only did he hit three home runs, but he was also able to score with a fly ball on short center field - after hitting a triple - bringing out his super speed. Photo: IG-ronaldacunajr13

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González

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Leer en español: Ronald Acuña Jr.: el presente y futuro de las Grandes Ligas

Surely while you are reading this article, Ronald Acuña Jr. has already had another fantastic performance this season in the Major Leagues. As a starter we can mention that in a matter of two days he not only hit three home runs, thus demonstrating his incredible power at-bat, but he was also able to score with a fly ball in a short center field -after hitting a triple-, taking outshine your super speed. Is there something this 23-year-old is not doing well?

To all this must also be added an internal record of the Atlanta Braves, as he achieved his 14th extra-base in the first 13 games, something that only a team history like Hank Aaron had since 1959. Even the Venezuelan performances since his debut in 2018 have made the fans love him immensely and even compare him to Aaron himself. His numbers and talent speak for themselves, and his career is just beginning.

Baseball in your DNA

On April 25, 2018, Acuña made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves, but before that, he had to go through several episodes. A native of La Sabana, a town on the Venezuelan coast, Ronald's passion for baseball began at the age of 3, and how not to do it if practically everyone in his family has dedicated himself to this sport: father, grandfather, and cousins like Kelvim and Alcides Escobar, among others. It was only a matter of time before the opportunity to become another Venezuelan in the Major Leagues came to him as well.

As some of you know, one of the things that many Scouts consider the most when looking at prospects is height. Unfortunately for Ronald, when he was 16, he was not tall enough and that raised doubts that they would give him a chance. However, a Rolando Petit who had already had a similar case with José Altuve did not want to make the same mistake and made the Venezuelan gardener sign for $ 100,000 on July 2, 2014. What would happen four years later? An extension for eight seasons and a contract for 100 million dollars.

Since that first signature, his career has been on the rise. 2017 had a fantastic year; made his first appearances in Grapefruit League games; made the All-Star Futures Game roster and played the entire game; made his Triple-A debut hitting a field homer, ending that season with 21 homers, 82 RBIs, and 44 stolen bases; He was invited to join the MLB's top elite prospect completion school (Arizona Fall League), where he won the championship and the league's Most Valuable Player title - being the youngest to do so.

A rookie out of the ordinary

For the 2018 season, Baseball América ranked Acuña as the No. 1 prospect in the Major Leagues. Although he had started that year in Spring Training, to later be reassigned to the minor league camp in March, on April 25 he became the 384th Venezuelan in the MLB when he faced the Cincinnati Reds, a team to which he connected his first hit and a home run. After overcoming a minor injury, his performance began to improve remarkably as the days went by.

Also read: Best Latino future stars in Major Leagues

How much did he do that season that earned him the National League Rookie of the Year? He became the youngest baseball player to hit home runs in five consecutive games and hit a postseason Grand Slam, the seventh player in MLB history to hit 25 home runs and the fourth to record a 25-15 season (home runs and stolen bases) under 21 years of age. In the end, he comfortably prevailed in the election, receiving 27 first-place votes and three second-place votes for 144 points.

The Atlanta Abuser

Since 2019, the Venezuelan gardener has not stopped surprising locals and strangers with more extraordinary performances, thus earning his nickname El Abusador. In August of that year, thanks to a great combination of power and speed, he joined the select group 30-30, being the second Venezuelan to do so and the only Latino under 22 years of age. But as if that weren't enough, he also became the second-youngest player in history to hit 40 home runs in the same season and finished it with just three steals on base to go 40-40.

We can continue to talk about how many times he has made history, like in 2020 when he reached 70 home runs in his career and became the third Braves player to do so in fewer games, but we must also highlight another aspect. If some time ago he was criticized for not running to the maximum with ground balls to the infield, the maturity of the boy has been seen for this 2021 after getting an infield hit with a sprint to first base in 2.9 seconds. Acknowledging mistakes and working hard to correct them are the details that lead sports stars to success.

For now, many hope that Acuña will have a dream 2021: surpass the mark of 100 homers and stolen bases in his career, enter the club 40-40 (where only José Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodríguez, and Alfonso Soriano are), lead the home run department and even win the MVP of the season. Without a doubt, we are facing the present and future of the Major Leagues.