Ronald Acuna was the most-anticipated Braves prospect in decades, and in spite of the extreme hype, he managed to not only meet expectations, but surpass them in most cases. David O’Brien of The Athletic details an oral history in celebration of what’s known as the Year of Acuna. The phenom hit .293/.366/.552 en route to a 3.7 fWAR season that won him the NL Rookie of the Year award, and became the youngest player in history to hit a grand slam in the postseason. Because he opened the year in the minors, Braves fans will have the privilege of watching Acuna play in Atlanta for at least six more seasons.
A pair of other small items…
- Although Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor struggled mightily at the end of the 2018 season, the club is hopeful that he’ll be able to revert to the promise he showed in a 3.1 fWAR 2017 campaign. Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post details the storyline as it stands, including a few poignant quotes from GM Mike Rizzo. “If he figures out the contact portion of it a little bit better, you are talking about a guy that could have five tools,” he explained. “He’s had flashes of it in the past and he just needs to be more consistent in his approach at the plate, because the kid’s a really good player.” While Taylor did indeed show a lot of talent in 2017, it’s well-worth noting that the biggest difference between that and his 2018 performance was a 43-point difference in BABIP. Still, Taylor’s power numbers inexplicably plummeted last season as well, leaving room for optimism in regards to a potential rebound.
- Jake Rogers is still the Tigers’ catcher of the future, Anthony Fenech writes in a piece for Baseball America, but he’ll have to do better than the .219/.305/.412 batting line he posted across 408 plate appearances at Double-A Erie this past season. According to GM Al Avila, Rogers is likely to begin the 2019 season at that same level. “Depending on how spring training goes, we’ll make a decision there,” he said at the winter meetings. “But I would say we’re kind of leaning towards (Erie), just for his own good.” The Tigers would “like to see him improve upon the offense” before giving him a promotion to the minors’ highest level. Vice President of Player Personnel Dave Littlefield offered something in the way of optimism regarding Rogers’ capabilities, expressing “no doubt” that he’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments in his swing, adding that he improved late in the year with some minor tweaks. Rogers was taken in third round of the 2016 draft, and currently ranks 12th among Detroit’s prospects.