It didn’t take long for Atlanta Braves All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. to make an impact at the plate in his home county of Venezuela.
Ronald Acuña Jr. blasted a home run in his Venezuelan League debut, whetting the appetites of Atlanta Braves fans for what could be to come in 2023
The Braves granted Acuña, a native of Venezuela, permission to be the designated hitter in five games this winter for the Tiburones de la Guaira of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Acuña was expected to make his debut at DH on Wednesday, but pinch hit in Tuesday night’s game and delivered a memorable blast to center field.
Atlanta is reportedly fine with Acuña getting some at-bats in Venezuela, but made it very clear that he was not to play any outfield positions during this short-term run with the Tiburones de la Guaira. After suffering an ACL injury midway through the 2021 campaign that was a big reason behind Atlanta rebuilding its outfield through trades on its way to a World Series victory, Acuña missed some time in the 2022 campaign, playing in just 119 games. However, when he took the field, he was a force for the Braves, slashing .266/.351/.413 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI, as well as swiping 29 bases.
With recent injuries in mind, it’s clear to see why Atlanta doesn’t want to take any chances with Acuña, who is signed through the 2026 campaign, roaming the outfield in Venezuela.
Acuña Jr. will be one of the key pieces for Atlanta next season as the Braves look to not only repeat as National League East champions, but also bounce back from a disappointing end to the 2022 season as they were bounced in the ALDS by eventual NL champion Philadelphia.