Acuna, 20, is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball (behind only Shohei Ohtani) by MLB Pipeline, and some believed he’d crack Atlanta’s Opening Day roster this year after he posted a 1.053 OPS with seven homers in 99 Arizona Fall League plate appearances. Despite his spectacular .432/.519/.727 slash line with four homers over 52 Grapefruit League plate appearances this spring, Atlanta reassigned him to minor-league camp late in the spring; while they didn’t openly admit it, it’s quite clear that the Braves did so to gain an extra year of contractual control over the 20-year-old phenom.
Acuna got off to a slow start at Triple-A Gwinnett, going 0 for his first 11 this year. Because of those struggles, the Braves chose to keep him in the minors beyond the first date on which he could’ve been promoted after the extra year of control was triggered. While his .232/.321/.304 slash line for the season isn’t exceptionally impressive, he’s now 11 for his last 33 and recently snapped a six-game hitting streak.
Acuna will have to be added to the Braves’ 40-man and 25-man rosters, though the 40-man addition won’t be an issue, as they have an open 40-man spot after designating reliever Miguel Socolovich for assignment on Tuesday. They have 13 pitchers on the roster and could subtract one to accommodate Acuna — Max Fried, who was recalled to fill a long-relief role Tuesday, could be a candidate. If they decide to get rid of a position player to make room, veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos — who has posted a .120/.185/.160 slash line over 27 plate appearances this season — would seemingly be at risk.
Acuna, who was born on December 18, 1997, will become the youngest player in the major leagues, taking that title from teammate Ozzie Albies.