Twenty-one years ago, Andruw Jones steamrolled from high Class A through Double-A and Triple-A and won his second Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award before starring for the Braves in the 1996 World Series as a 19-year-old. Ronald Acuña won't have the World Series echo, but his similar, breakout season earned him the 2017 edition of BA's award, making him just the second Brave to win it since Jones doubled up in 1995-96. Past winners include Hall of Famer Frank Thomas (1990), former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (1994) and two-time MVP Mike Trout (2011). The award will be presented to Acuña during BA's Awards Gala during the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Signed out of Venezuela in 2014 for $100,000, Acuña played just 42 games in 2016, but his tools were evident. Aided by a strong winter-ball stint in Australia, he ranked No. 67 on BA's preseason Top 100 Prospects list. His breakout season exceeded anyone's expectations, however. After starting the year with Atlanta's new high Class A affiliate, the Florida Fire Frogs, Acuña earned a promotion to Double-A Mississippi after just 28 games. Fifty-seven games later, he jumped to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he finished the season. He led the minor leagues with 181 hits en route to a .325/.374/.522 season. His power-speed combination dazzled scouts as he slugged 21 home runs, as well as 31 doubles and eight triples, while stealing 44 bases in 64 attempts.
Ronald Acuna wins Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year Award
Baseball America | Sep 8