Baseball America has named Braves infielder Ronald Acuna its Minor League Player of the Year.
Acuna, who is only 19, had a meteoric rise through the minors this year, beginning the campaign in High-A ball, moving up to Double-A after only 28 games and then moving up to Triple-A 57 games later. In the course of his season-long rampage through the minors the outfielder led all hitters with 181 hits and posted a line of .325/.374/.522, hit 21 home runs, 31 doubles, eight triples, drove in 81 runs and stole 44 bases. Did I mention that he’s only 19? Yeah, I think I did.
Acuna is the third Brave to win Baseball America’s Award, the last being Jason Heyward in 2009 and the first being Andruw Jones, who actually won it twice, in 1995 and 1996.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.