Venezuelan outfielder Ronald Acuña, considered the best prospect for the Atlanta Braves, has been named the Most Valuable Player of the Arizona Fall League after batting .325 and leading the league with seven homers in 23 games for the Peoria Javelinas.
"I thank God for the opportunity and for winning the MVP, there are many players here who are very talented and it is a privilege to be selected as the Most Valuable Player."
In 2016, fellow Venezuelan Gleyber Torres of the Yankees became the first teenager to win the award, but Acuña, who turns 20 next month, is the youngest prospect who has won the award.
For Acuña, it is the finishing touch for a great season in which he was recognized as the Offensive Prospect of the Year by MLBPipeline.com.
The 19-year-old wasn't on MLB Pipeline's list of Top 100 Prospects to begin the season, but currently finds himself ranked No. 5 after slashing .325/.374/.522 with 21 homers, 82 RBIs and 44 stolen bases in 139 games across three levels in the regular season and following up that campaign with more gaudy numbers in the AFL.
After his breakout 2017, there was plenty of hype and expectation for Acuna as he entered the AFL, but -- as he's done so often this season -- he more than lived up it. Acuna finished the season on a five-game hitting streak and led the league in runs (22), extra-base hits (12) and total bases (53).
"I started a little bit slow and eventually I made a little bit of an adjustment. The reason I started slow was I was coming from instructional league and I was a little bit tired. It's not an excuse, I just [needed] to make an adjustment and that's what this game is all about."
Throughout the AFL, Acuna showcased his wide array of skills. The teenager was named the AFL Player of the Week in Week 3 after hitting .475 (10-for-21), he demonstrated his plus arm with a strong throw from right field to home in the Fall Stars game and hit a pair of homers on national TV in the Military Appreciation Game, one of two two-homer games during the AFL season.
Acuna is still young, but he's thrived at every level and passed every challenge thus far. After everything he accomplished in 2017, it's easy for Braves fans to envision Acuna in a Major League uniform -- a goal he hopes to accomplish in 2018.
"I'm going to continue working hard, doing my best and hopefully make the team next year in the big leagues.".
Arizona | MLB.com | William Boor