Assessing Braves Austin Riley: First Week in the Big Leagues
Cover Photo: Riley’s reaction to his 2nd career home-run on May 18th, 2019. (2-run shot vs Brewers)
By. Andrew Rodberg (twitter/www.twitter.com/404thebeat)
In a sudden series of events (Ender Inciarte injured and placed on the 10 day IL), the Braves called up their #4 prospect, Austin Riley to “The Show” to fill Inciarte’s spot. In the weeks leading to his call up, Riley destroyed AAA pitching for 18 games where he hit an astronomical amount of home-runs during that span (13). With Riley barreling up everything and the unfortunate injury that took place, the Braves couldn’t ignore the obvious… it was time to bring up Riley.
As Josh Donaldson continued to stay healthy and be an everyday player, Riley (a 3B by trade) was given the job of taking care of left field in order to get his bat in the lineup. With his MLB debut taking place on May 15th, 2019 vs the Cardinals, Riley was placed in the lineup as the 6th batter. In his first at bat, he struck out then made some magic during his second. Riley in his second at bat was able to destroy a ball and send it to left center field for a solo home-run and his first career hit.
With Riley continuing to swing a hot bat, he was able to give the Braves a much needed spark in their batting order while getting game-day experience on a consistent basis. In his two games vs the Cardinals, Riley was able to rack up 4 hits in 7 at bats while having 1 HR and 2 RBI’s. With that being said, the Braves then looked ahead to a three game series with the Milwaukee Brewers. As the games continued to pile up for Riley, he remained in left field where he maintained his good work in the outfield. In this three game series, Austin kept his hitting streak alive for the first two games where he racked up 4 hits and yet another home-run in his fourth career game. He was shut down in the third and final game and ended that series 4/12 with 1 HR and 2 RBI’s.
With Riley beginning to get comfortable with the MLB, the Braves headed out to the west coast for a 4 game series with the San Francisco Giants. After having his hitting streak snapped at 4 games, Riley showed that he wouldn’t become discouraged as he took Andrew Suarez deep in the top of the 6th for his third career home run in game #1. Riley tore up Giants pitching in the four game series as he had back to back games with home runs in the 3rd and 4th games. Riley ended the 4 game series 6/17, 3 HR’s, 6 RBI’s. As his first week in the big leagues came to a close, Riley showed Braves Country and the Front Office that he is way to much of a threat to not be on the active roster. Austin ended his first week in the majors, 14/36 hitting, 5 HR’s and 12 RBI’s.
As many analysts stated in their minor league showings of Riley, “he chases a lot of pitches out of the zone resulting in strikeouts”, it was important for Austin to make sure not to force anything at the plate (in the Majors) but instead wait for his pitches. In doing so, Riley was able to cut down on the strikeouts while only allowing 12 through his first week in the league.
Having said that, I believe Riley will continue to be an everyday player for the Braves (left field for now) while giving Josh Donaldson days off and managing third base on those days.
Join us in Welcoming Austin Riley to “The Show” and Congratulating him on a stellar first week in the Majors!
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