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Braves send top prospect Acuna to minor league camp

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

By DICK SCANLAN

Associated Press

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) Top prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. was sent down to the Atlanta Braves' minor league camp.

The 20-year-old Venezuelan outfielder hit .432 with four home runs in 16 spring training games when the Braves sent him down after Monday's 6-0 win over Toronto .

"We feel like it would probably be best overall, from a philosophical standpoint, to give him more development time," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "There's no manual on how to handle a player's development. They're not all the same."

Acuna had 19 hits, a .519 on-base percentage and a .727 slugging percentage in spring training. If Acuna does not appear on the Braves' roster during the first 15 days of the season, his eligibility for free agency would be delayed by a year until after the 2024 season at the earliest.

"Our No. 1 priority is going to be the development of each player because you want them, when they're up here, to stay up here for long, productive careers and hopefully not have the yo-yo of going up and down," Anthopoulos said.

Acuna rose through three minor league levels last season, his third year in professional baseball. He hit .344 with nine home runs in 54 games at Triple-A .

"We said we would keep an open mind, but what we did talk a lot about was he ran through the minor leagues last year," Anthopoulos said. "Having more development time, no one's ever been hurt by that."

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Updated March 19, 2018

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