NL All-Star balloting update: Melky in, Braun out

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Just like in Monday’s AL balloting update, one spot in the National League projected All-Star lineup changed hands this week. Melky Cabrera moved ahead of Ryan Braun into third place in the outfield.

Cabrera is deserving based on his performance this season, but one can’t help but notice that Giants fans have been awfully generous in voting for their favorites to date. Angel Pagan ranks ahead of Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield, Brandon Belt is fourth at first base and even Brandon Crawford is fifth at shortstop.

CATCHER
Buster Posey, Giants: 2,445,005
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 2,291,567
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 1,756,018

FIRST BASE
Joey Votto, Reds: 3,151,032
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 1,193,455
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 1,159,418

SECOND BASE
Dan Uggla, Braves: 2,054,920
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 1,272,389
Jose Altuve, Astros: 1,074,993

THIRD BASE
David Wright, Mets: 1,977,388
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 1,612,497
Chipper Jones, Braves: 1,547,221

SHORTSTOP
Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: 1,741,360
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 1,647,235
Starlin Castro, Cubs: 1,006,333

OUTFIELD
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 3,322,009
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals: 2,652,980
Melky Cabrera, Giants: 2,144,107
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 2,118,925
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 1,517,218
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 1,374,004
Hunter Pence, Phillies: 1,234,428
Michael Bourn, Braves: 1,201,215
Angel Pagan, Giants: 1,158,500

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.