Braves outfield prospect Ronald Acuna earned Minor League Player of the Year honors from Baseball America on Friday, before which BA’s Matt Eddy noted that the 19-year-old had one of the finest offensive seasons ever put together by a teenager. Acuna, who climbed from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A in 2017, combined for a .325/.374/.522 batting line and a 155 OPS+ in 612 plate appearances. Only seven other teenage players – all household names in Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez (twice), Jason Heyward, Gregg Jefferies, Justin Upton and Mike Trout – bettered Acuna’s OPS+ in an individual season, Eddy notes. Based on Acuna’s Double-A and Triple-A production, Eddy writes that he stacks up closely with where A-Rod, Sheffield, Jones, Jefferies, Heyward, Trout, Melvin Upton, Justin Upton, Adrian Beltre and Delmon Young were at similar stages of their minor league careers. For the most part, that’s special company.
A bit more from the NL…
- Cubs catcher Willson Conteras has been out with a hamstring strain since Aug. 9, but manager Joe Maddon suggested Saturday that he’s closing in on a return. “It’s not impossible [he could be activated on Sunday], but I don’t know that it’s going to happen,” Maddon said, per Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. “It’s just a matter of when you talk to him, ’How are you seeing the ball? What do you feel like at the plate? How does the leg feel?'” Although Conteras has been among the majors’ best catchers this year, the first-place Cubs have managed to increase their lead in the NL Central during his absence from 1.5 games to three. Among the reasons: Fellow backstops Alex Avila and Rene Rivera, both of whom joined the Cubs as recent acquisitions, have filled in with aplomb offensively.
- Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo announced Saturday that the team has shut down right-hander Randall Delgado and added that he could miss the rest of the season, according to Kellan Olsen of Arizona Sports 98.7. Delgado hasn’t pitched for the D-backs since July 15 on account of elbow issues. He underwent an MRI this week that showed a flexor strain, and the club will send him to famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Flexor strains sometimes portend Tommy John surgery, of course, and having to undergo the procedure at this point would likely keep Delgado out until the 2019 campaign. The swingman was having a nice year before the injury cropped up, as he pitched to a 3.59 ERA with 8.62 K/9 against 2.01 BB/9 across 62 2/3 innings (26 appearances, five starts).