Sports

Austin Riley, Michael Harris II Lead Braves New Youth Movement


Via Pedro Moura
FOX Sports MLB Writer

At the beginning of the 2019 season, Atlanta Braves signed both Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies, a young man born in 1997, went to a long-term stay for a period of 10 days. It is like the radiance of a new era.

The Braves have just returned from four seasons down to the 2018 National League East title, in Alex Anthopoulos’ first season as general manager. Freddie Freemanfranchise platform during the lull, was found to partner with Acuña and Albies in shaping what the club hopes could be a perennial winner.

Under Anthopoulos, Atlanta has indeed built up a perennial winner, but not in the way that everyone expected. Freeman is clearly a Cunning, after a story, we don’t need to revisit here. The Braves won the World Series without an Acuña a year ago, and in his 2022 return from a tattered ACL, he played just fine, not excellent. Albies has been average for three seasons now, and mediocre when healthy this year.

The impact of Ronald Acuña Jr. for Braves, MLB

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Instead, the Braves are winning because there is an emerging batch of homegrown talent. In an unexpected turn of events, the third baseman Austin RIley, another 1997-born child, became a superstar. When Albies and Acuña signed contract extensions, Riley remained a prospect at Triple-A Gwinnett. He debuted the next month but played baseball worse than his replacement for the next two seasons.

A month after the 2021 season, Riley started to achieve higher. His improved patience forced pitchers to attack him in the area, and he won attacks. Over the past month, Riley made her first All-Star game and signed an extension of her own — worth $212 million, or 50% more than Albies and Acuña’s deals, together.

Riley is now, like anyone, the face of Atlanta’s brand.

In addition to Riley, the Braves were relying on a player so young that he was not part of their organization when Albies and Acuña’s contracts were finalized. Center welder Michael Harris II, born in 2001, became the youngest player ever to debut on Memorial Day weekend. Atlanta drafted the hometown product in the third round in 2019. Due to the 2020 pandemic shutdown, he barely played professionally until 2021. The Braves promoted him after his 43rd game. at Double-A, a decision so extreme that it surprised Harris himself, his parents, and many around the sport.

Proven aggression. Harris is the true center forward that the Braves have long lacked, making their defence so much more imposing. He doesn’t walk much but is exposed enough to take advantage of his pace. He is also exerting more power than he manages in the minors. By Win on Substitute measurements, he’s as valuable to the Braves this season as Acuña and Albies combined.

Last week, the Braves made another positive promotion decision: They called Harris’s close friend and board companion in 2019, Vaughn Grissomto the man’s second base while Albies and his replacement Orlando Arcia Still out due to injury. With Tampa . Bay‘S Wander Franco currently injured, Grissom is second only to Harris as the sport’s second youngest dynamic player.

In addition to a short-term position patch, Grissom’s timing could also lead to a test run involving his willingness to take the freelance agent’s short-term position impending. Dansby Swanson next season. Grissom debuted with a classic, performing in front of Fenway Park’s Green Monster for his first hit. Then he hugged Harris.

“It was like a ‘We’ve hit it’ moment,” Grissom told reporters in Boston. “Like, a kind of ‘We did it’ kind of feeling.”

Atlanta’s Michael Harris II & Spencer Strider Highlight Top Rookies

In June, Ben Verlander noticed Michael Harris II in his Head of the Class segment with top MLB rookies.

These two 21-year-olds are joined to the nightly squad by another player who has come, indirectly, through recent drafts. In March, the Braves traded four of their better prospects to Oakland Because Matt Olson, their chosen Freeman replacement. Atlanta got two of those four leads, including Shea Langeliers, in the 2019 draft and another in the 2021 release.

This is not a wholesale change of guard for the Braves. Ace left-handed people Maximum frying ahead of the team in 2019, and he’s under the club’s control for at least two more seasons. Acuña is still only 24 years old, and by no means has his abilities withered. Evaluators expect him to return to top form in time.

But it is probably a change, and so far, it is working. The braves’ 13-1 dam afterward Mets on Monday was their seventh straight win. Atlanta may be too far behind the mighty Mets to dominate this year’s NL East, but the Braves are a virtual certainty to qualify to play after a fifth straight season. And because of their consistent editing capabilities and rapid player development, they’re built to sustain this success. They own one of the sport’s youngest cores, much of which is under the club’s control at below-market prices for years to come.

It all started in April 2019.

Pedro Moura is the national baseball writer for FOX Sports. Before that, he covered the Dodgers for three seasons for The Athletic and before that, Angels and Dodgers for five seasons for the Orange County Register and LA Times. Previously, he covered his alma mater, USC, for ESPNLosAngeles.com. The son of Brazilian immigrants, he grew up in a Southern California suburb. His first book, “How to Beat a Broken Game,” came out this spring. Follow him on Twitter @pedromoura.


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