It used to be the only way into the Venezuelan fishing village of La Sabana was by four-wheel-drive vehicle. Rolando Petit, a Venezuelan native who has scouted Latin America for the Atlanta Braves for 26 years, knew the way, though. He would slog back through the thickets to La Sabana years ago to hunt for players. That is where he saw Ronald Acuna on a ballfield tucked behind the forests and along the Venezuelan coastline. Ronald Acuna Sr., that is. “Good player,” Petit says. “I saw him 20 years ago. He signed with the Mets. I compared him to Raul Mondesi, who was very good for the Dodgers.” Petit, 50, was back in La Sabana five years ago — with the help of a better road — and found another Ronald Acuna, the son. He was 14 1/2 years old, and Petit’s eyes went wide with interest just watching him trot out onto the field. “He has body life,” Petit says. “Run, jump, throw or just walk. You could see it. Body life.” Petit smiles and says, “You look for the genes. His mom is 6-foot-1 1/2 and an athlete. His uncles are 6-foot-7 and basketball players. His dad was a good athlete and is a good man. It’s all about projections. You could see the skill, but also how he is as a person.” It was Acuna’s athleticism that caught Petit’s eye, and then the kid started to throw the ball around. Then he swung the bat, which whizzed through the strike zone, even when held by a 14 year old. Petit was enthralled by the talent. He is the scout who signed Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies and potential future shortstop-third baseman Kevin Maitan.
Minor League Player of the Year: Braves prospect Ronald Acuna improves at every level
USA Today | Sep 6