Peter Biello, GPB News
This week the Atlanta Braves signed a 17-year-old amateur prospect from Venezuela for $5 million. As the Braves recruit new players there, GPB’s Peter Biello reports, they may benefit from the so-called ‘Acuña effect.’
Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. is an inspiration to young ballplayers in his native Venezuela. Jonathan Cruz, the Braves’ director of Latin American scouting, says the signing of Jose Perdomo this week probably had more to do with money than proximity to his idol, but having a prominent Venezuelan on the team helps.
“We’ve had an edge with Venezuelans because of that ‘Acuña effect,’” Cruz said. “Are we calling Acuña and telling him, ‘hey, help us out with these guys?’ No. He’s an MVP. We don’t have to ask for help. Everyone of these kids dreams about being on the same field with him.”
Acuña was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player last year.
The Braves this week signed a half-dozen players from both Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, and still have cash on hand to sign more talent from abroad.
According to the ESPN roster tracker, this week the Braves also agreed to terms with eleven other international players including right-handed pitchers Fernando Duarte, Anferni Gonzalez, Francique Kendy, Rafael Lasorsa, Noslen Marquez, Jorge Nunez and Yander Pinero, infielder Juan Mateo and outfielders Gabriel Cesa, Juan Espinal and Isaac Osorio.
This story comes to the Peachtree Gazette through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.