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The reigning National League Rookie of the Year has had an incredible second year so far. He has consistently held a batting average around .290, and has destroyed some baseballs along his way.
This All Star could become only the fifth player in MLB history to join the elusive 40-40 Club. To join this club, a player must hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases within a single season. The only players to do so are Jose Canseco in 1988, Barry Bonds in 1996, Alex Rodriguez in 1998, and Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Acuña could very possibly be on his way to joining these elite ball players.
After the game early on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins, Ronald Acuña has 29 home runs and 26 stolen bases. He has 46 games left in the season to rack up 11 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Can the young phenom join one of the most elite clubs in all of baseball in only his second season?
The Atlanta Braves while up 6 ½ games on the Philadelphia Phillies could stand to make a few improvements. With Mike Foltynewicz optioned to AAA over the weekend and a lack of a solid closer, there is definitely the need for a few moves to be made. I will dive in to five potential trades that the Braves might look to make before or at the trade deadline.
Ender Inciarte, Kolby Allard, and Cristian Pache to the San Francisco Giants for P Madison Bumgarner and RP Will Smith.
This trade has been floated out by many outlets and seems to be the most plausible as the San Francisco Giants are rebuilding and have let teams know they are ready to sell. Madison Bumgarner will be a free agent after the season so any trade for him would be a rental and it’s obvious that he’s not the same pitcher he was two or three years ago. The one thing I really like about him though is that he has Post Season big game pitching experience which is something the Braves lack outside of Dallas Keuchel. Will Smith has done an excellent job as the Giants closer this year as he has not blown a save in 20 chances this year and has only been scored on once in his last 14 appearances. We all know the Braves could use a lock down closer to help push back other relievers into more set roles so this trade could benefit all around. The other reason I like this deal is because I don’t think it would devastate our deep farm system.
Ender Inciarte, Johan Camargo, and Kolby Allard to San Diego Padres for RP Kirby Yates
The San Diego Padres have started to let teams know that Kirby Yates is available in trades but that it won’t be cheap as Yates is relatively cheap and has another year and a half of team control. Yates currently has 26 saves with a 1.36 ERA. The Padres would love to add Ender Inciarte to their outfield as he has better range than Wil Myers in CF and Camargo could man second base until Luis Urias is fully ready. The problem with this deal is I don’t think San Diego is fully ready to sell while having a chance at the 2nd Wild Card.
Johan Camargo and Cristian Pache to Detroit Tigers for RP Shane Greene
The Detroit Tigers are 22 games out of 1st place and Shane Greene has been one of the few bright spots to come out of the 2019 season for them. Greene has 21 saves and with just one blown save. His ERA is a miniscule 0.93 which the Braves would love to have anchoring the ninth inning. He also comes with another year of team control. The problem in this deal though is that the Tigers appear to be loaded with the same talent that the Braves want to unload at the trade deadline. They are a young pitching rich organization and aren’t going to be impressed with a name like Kolby Allard. They would love to add Johan Camargo who would play everyday but I think it would take either Cristian Pache or even Drew Waters to make them interested in any deal with the Braves.
Kolby Allard, Johan Camargo, Ender Inciarte, to Texas Rangers for SP Mike Minor and RP Shawn Kelley.
Mike Minor has had a career rebirth in 2019 with Texas going 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA to start the year which has increased chatter of him being shopped at the deadline if Texas is out of the Wild Card race. Minor obviously has the familiarity of pitching in Atlanta having been with the Braves from 2010-2014 before arm issue derailed his career for a few years. Minor comes with another year of team control as well. Shawn Kelley has 10 saves for the Rangers with a 2.89 ERA in a bullpen that doesn’t really have a true closer. I just don’t see this being a deal that Alex Anthopolous would feel it making the Braves any better. Minor while having a great season will always come with the risk of injury as with other Tommy John surgeries. Shawn Kelley isn’t the shutdown closer the Braves need to get to the next step as he provides essentially the same numbers that current closer Luke Jackson has for the Braves.
Max Fried, Johan Camargo, Ender Inciarte, Touki Toussaint, and Crristian Pache to the New York Mets for SP Jacob Degrom and RP Edwin Diaz.
If you are gonna mortgage good young talent at the deadline I want the homerun of all deals. This essentially solves the two biggest needs of the Braves in one solid deal. A number one in Degrom and a solid closer in Edwin Diaz. The Mets are a disaster this year and thanks to their involvement in ownership Ponzi Scheme’s are cash strapped as well. DeGrom while having an off year this year has proven time and time again that he is a true number one and I think would benefit being out of New York and it’s terrible offense. DeGrom does come with a sizeable contract having just signed an extension that will take him to his age 36 season so that would be a concern in this deal. Edwin Diaz has 16 Saves with a 3.64 ERA and has 3 blown saves but I feel that is due to him not being able to handle the tough New York market that some players just can’t adjust to. He is coming off a dominating year with Seattle where he saved 57 games on a team that wasn’t very good. Although fun to talk about I don’t see this deal ever happening as it would involve two teams in the same division working out a trade and I just don’t see Alex Anthopolous giving up the haul it would need for a 31 year old starter whose numbers have declined and a closer who has struggled at times this year regardless of his past numbers.
These are just a few possibilities out there and as teams fall out of contention many more players could become available as we get closer to the trade deadline. I think we all agree that some moves do need to be made if the Braves are going to be serious contenders going into the playoffs.
The Atlanta Braves have signed free agent pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, to a one year, $13 million deal. Atlanta has been going after Keuchel for a few weeks now. It has been between them and the New York Yankees to see who would land him. The Braves won that duel and Dallas Keuchel will make his Triple A start in Gwinnett on Saturday. This will likely be his only start before being called up to Atlanta.
Keuchel is coming off of his 7th season with the Houston Astros. He had a 12-11 record last year with a 3.74 ERA. Keuchel is a two time all star and a World Series champion. He also won the 2015 American League Cy Young award winner. That year, he had 20-8 record with a 2.48 ERA. If Keuchel can even come close to returning to his former Cy Young self, he will improve the Braves rotation tremendously.
Austin Riley has been a top prospect for the Atlanta Braves for a couple of years now. He was drafted in 2015 with the 41st overall pick. He started with the Gulf Coast Braves but was quickly promoted to the Mississippi Braves. He dominated there and got promoted to the Gwinnett Stripers in May of last year. He started the 2019 season in Gwinnett on fire. In the first 37 games of the year, Riley’s batting average was at .299. He had already hit 15 home runs with an OPS of 1.057. Fans were starting to question why he hadn’t been called up yet. The answer was simple, Riley plays 3rd base, and Atlanta has former MVP, Josh Donaldson, in the hot corner. Riley eventually got his time as he was called up to Atlanta on May 15 to play left field due to Ender Inciarte being put on the injured list.
Austin Riley’s first career game was a home game against the St. Louis Cardinals. It didn’t take long for Riley to continue his dominance. After striking out his first at bat, Riley hit a 438 foot bomb to left-center field. Since, he has played four more games for Atlanta. He has had a total of 19 at bats. He has 8 hits, 2 of them being home runs, for a batting average of .421 and an OPS of 1.211. Riley has also scored 4 runs and knocked in 4 runs. Riley even has an Atlanta Braves record for the most hits in a players first four games with 8 hits. If Atlanta keeps him up, Riley could ride this wave until the end of the year. The Atlanta Braves could be looking at back-to-back rookie of the years.
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.