How hot is Ronald Acuña? He’s so hot he hit leadoff home runs in both games of Monday’s doubleheader against the Marlins.
In the first game this afternoon, Acuña led off by working the count 3-1 before drilling a 93 MPH fastball from Pedro López to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead. The Braves would go on to win 9-1. Acuña finished 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored along with the homer.
In game two, Acuña jumped on a first-pitch 93 MPH fastball from Merandy Gonzalez to once again put the Braves up by one early.
According to David O’Brien of The Athletic, Acuña is the first player to hit leadoff home runs in both games of a doubleheader since the Orioles’ Brady Anderson on August 21, 1999 against the White Sox.
After his second homer, Acuña carries a .278/.339/.553 batting line along with 17 homers, 38 RBI, and 46 runs scored in 280 plate appearances this season. Juan Soto and Dereck Rodriguez are the frontrunners for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, but Acuña is certainly rising the ranks and could make things interesting by the end of the season.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.