Braves Lead Peoria to AFL Championship
Another chapter of the Arizona Fall League is in the books. The six week season that featured baseball’s best young up and comers was capped off by the championship game on Saturday afternoon. While both the Peoria Javelinas and the Mesa Solar Sox rosters were stacked with talent, one big league club saw its prospects make quite an impact on the game and lead the Javelinas to the 2017 AFL championship.
The Atlanta Braves had a handful of prospects making headlines throughout the fall league season and the club saw that trend continue in the championship game. The Javelinas penciled three Braves into their lineup and two of them were responsible for driving in 75% of the team’s runs on Saturday.
Mesa took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning and those early scores would prove to be their only runs to cross the plate all game. Luis Urias would cut the lead in half in the second when the San Diego Padres prospect had an RBI sac fly. That would set the stage for the Braves youngsters to steal the show, starting with a big third inning.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the third, the Braves number one prospect, Ronald Acuna, took to the plate. Down in the count 1-2, the 19 year old Venezuelan outfielder knocked an RBI single to center to tie things up. Chicago Cubs prospect Jake Stinnett would then walk the Padres Josh Naylor to load the bases. Braves catching prospect, Alex Jackson, stepped into the batter’s box next and didn’t waste any time before doing damage. He laced the first pitch of the at bat down the left field line, driving in two, and giving the Javelinas a 4-2 lead.
Acuna would contribute even more offensively in the fourth with his second two out single of the day. He stepped in the box with the bases juiced after the Solar Sox walked two Peoria batter’s and hit another. Acuna then proceeded to fight off an inside 2-0 pitch to bloop the ball into right center and extend the lead to 6-2. He would add another insurance run in the 8th with a sac fly.
Acuna and Jackson were both 2/4 on the afternoon and drove in a combined six runs. The other Braves starter in this one, third base prospect Austin Riley, went 0/4 at the plate while drawing a walk and striking out twice. However, Riley did play solid defense at the hot corner, including showcasing his range and arm strength on a nice diving stop and throw to first.
Peoria dominated this AFL season from start to finish with the most potent offense in the league led by the AFL MVP, Ronald Acuna. They carried that offensive attack into the championship game and rode it to an 8-2 victory.