The Atlanta Braves have themselves a special player down in Gwinnett by the name of Austin Riley. Before the start of the season, many were wondering how he would find a path to the MLB this season after the Josh Donaldson signing. The answer came rather quickly when he got some time in the outfield during the spring. Nearly a month into the season, all the call u chatter had stopped, on April 24th, he was batting .213 with just two homeruns. Since that day, Austin Riley has been on a hot streak that has people wondering how much longer can the Braves keep him down.
Starting on April 25th, Riley has gotten his average up to .300 and has 12 homeruns and and 26 RBI since then. Video game type numbers for such a short span of games. That’s about as good as a 16 game stretch that you will see. The most intriguing thing about that stretch is that Riley has found a new position, left field, where he got some run at during the spring.
When Austin Riley is called up, he will be playing everyday. There will be no point in calling him up and having him spot start and be a pinch hitter. He needs to continue to get at bats and continue to develop, especially if he is playing the outfield.
With Riley a hot as he is, it is hard to keep him down in AAA, but there has to first be a path to the MLB. Right now, there really isn’t an immediate one that would lead to quick playing time. However, a lot can change with this Braves team from now until the trade deadline which quickly change the path for Riley to the MLB.
As we have said, Riley is really forcing the Braves hand. If Riley was doing this a month ago when Ender was struggling at the plate, you could have seen Ender be traded and Austin Riley be brought up while sliding Acuna to left. Now Ender has been on a nice little run at the plate, and his glove, as always, is one of the best in the bigs.
If the team finds themselves as sellers with the trade deadline approaching, no matter how Riley is doing, you will likely see a couple guys moved and see him brought up. Of course another scenario is if someone were to get injured for a significant amount of time and Riley could be called up at that time.
Riley impressed this spring, but as of right now, there really isn’t a place for him on the MLB roster, but he is basically forcing trying to force his way onto the roster, which is a good problem to have if you are the Braves.
Were Riley to keep up with this current pace, it will be hard to not see him on the Braves 25 man roster soon. He is a freakish talent with power that the Braves need, but it is just a matter of a clear path to reveal itself.
Heck, Austin Riley may just create his own path to the bigs.
By: Bret Anderson