Quick Hits: Acuña, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates

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In what’s surely a welcome sight for Braves fans, superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who watched his teammates win the 2021 World Series from the dugout as he rehabbed an ACL tear, has resumed on-field batting practice in his native Venezuela (video of the session can be seen here, via Spanish-language baseball news site El Extrabase). Acuña sustained the injury in Miami in July while attempting to track down a fly ball off the bat of Jazz Chisholm into LoanDepot Park’s right field corner.

While it remains to be seen whether (or for how long) the injury might sap Acuña’s speed or explosiveness, the news marks a clear milestone in his recovery. However welcome the news, though, it isn’t clear when Acuña will be available, how he’ll be used when he does return, or what effect it will have on GM Alex Anthopoulos’ plans for the remainder of the Braves’ offseason. Regardless of Acuña’s availability, the Braves face several question marks in the outfield; of the four outfielders Anthopoulos acquired around the 2021 trade deadline (Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall), only Duvall remains under control for 2022. It’s also unclear how the club plans to handle the return of Marcell Ozuna from administrative leave or whether it views any of its three high-end outfield prospects (Cristian Pache, Drew Waters, and Michael Harris) as ready for significant big-league action.

Other notes from around the game:

  • Per Lindsey Adler of The Athletic, the Yankees have promoted former big-league outfielder (and longtime minor-leaguer) Kevin Reese to the position of Vice President of Player Development.  Since retiring after spending the 2007 season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Reese joined the Yankees as a minor league scout. Before this promotion, he had served as the Yankee’s Director of Professional Scouting since 2017. In an extremely small sample (16 plate appearances between 2005 and 2006), Reese posted a .385/.500/.385 batting line in the majors.
  • The Marlins announced a series of front office promotions, including DJ Svihlik to Senior Director of Amateur Scouting, Adrien Lorenzo to Senior Director of International Operations, Geoff DeGroot to Director of Player Development, and Hector Crespo to Director of Minor League Operations. The full list can be found via the club’s official announcement.
  • The Pirates announced the promotion of two minor league managers, reports Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Miguel Perez, who managed the Double-A Altoona Curve in 2021, has been named the manager of Triple-A Indianapolis, and Kieran Mattison, who had served as manager for the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers, will move to Altoona in 2022. Perez spent twelve years as a catcher in the Reds system, going hitless in 3 ABs with the big-league club in 2005, while Mattison spent nine years bouncing around the minors and independent ball, including stints in the Royals’, Indians’, and Dodgers’ systems.

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