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Major League Star Ronald Acuna Becomes Baseball United Investor

 Matt Tallarini  |    Apr 2nd, 2024 10:35pm EDT

Baseball United added Major League star Ronald Acuna to its ownership group on April 2, according to a release from the organization.

“Ronald is not only a generational athlete and the game’s best player, but he’s a cultural icon who inspires fans all over the world,” said Kash Shaikh, Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Baseball United. “He truly believes that baseball can be global, and he plays the game with the type of passion, charisma, and style that can help millions of new fans fall in love with the game.” 

The 26-year-old from La Guaira, Venezuela is a four-time All-Star and has racked up an impressive first five seasons in the big leagues. His other honors include being named NL Rookie of the Year, winning the NL Hank Aaron Award, three Silver Slugger Awards, and leading the NL in stolen bases twice.

Acuña earned a World Series ring for the 2021 championship season even though he was not on the postseason roster due to tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament while fielding a fly ball against the Miami Marlins.

“I am truly grateful to join the Baseball United family as an investor, co-owner, and active ambassador to help grow the game we all love,” said Acuña. “It’s been exciting to watch what Kash, John (Miedreich), and the BU team have built over the past two years. They’ve done things that no one has ever done before. And now, I’m honored to be a part of it. Growing up in Venezuela, I always dreamed of making a big impact on the game of baseball.”

Acuna led the majors with 217 hits, 73 stolen bases, 735 plate appearances, and a 1.012 OPS during his MVP season in 2023. He hit .337 with 35 doubles, 4 triples, 41 home runs, 106 strikeouts, 60 walks, and 84 strikeouts. 

“I’m very blessed to compete every day with my teammates to do that for Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves, and I can’t wait to help carry the game to new fans in the Middle East and South Asia with Baseball United,” Acuna said. 

Barry Larkin, Mariano Rivera, Adrián Beltré, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Ryan Howard, and Bartolo Colón are also part of the Baseball United invested group. 

Felix Hernandez, Elvis Andrus, and Robinson Chirinos are the other three Venezuelan-born Major League Baseball players who are invested in Baseball United. 

Baseball United held its first-ever draft in Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 22, 2023. 

The Mumbai Cobras had the first selection in the Baseball United Draft. They selected right-handed pitcher Karan Patel, drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the seventh round of the 2019 MLB Draft and was the first Indian-American selected in the MLB Draft.

Baseball United held its two-game Dubai Showcase exhibition at the Dubai International Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend. BU East beat BU West 3-2 and 9-5. 

Baseball United’s stated goal is to grow the sport to two billion people across India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, an area with nearly one billion cricket fans. Baseball United hopes to have franchises in South Asia in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

Baseball United’s franchises will also be located in Gulf Cooperation Council member nations and South Asia. The GCC countries include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The franchise locations will be announced in the foreseeable future, along with hiring major staff officials who will be part of the league’s success.

On March 26, Baseball United announced the rebranding of the Abu Dhabi Wolves and the Dubai Falcons to be the Arabia Wolves and Mid East Falcons and are retaining their original colors and logos with creative changes to letter marks and wordmarks to incorporate the new Arabia and Middle-East names.

The Mumbai Cobras and Karachi Monarchs did not have their franchise re-named from this process. 

Shaikh stated on March 26 on the league website, “About 7% of the GCC population are now baseball fans, which gives us a strong foundation of nearly five million fans across the Arabian Peninsula. The fans are young, educated, and active across sports and social media. And they all want teams they can call their own – franchises with a local feel, presence, and identity.” 

The league said it will announce plans for games in 2024 and the Saudi franchises later this year.

A unique rule in Baseball United is the gold ball, which is only used at the beginning of the ninth inning. If a home run is hit with the gold ball, the team hitting the homer gets double the number of runs they already drove in from the present score. If the game is tied after nine innings of play, a home run derby is another rule instead of extra innings. 

Designated runners are also in effect, and the hitter can be re-entered as a fielder during the next half-inning. 

Baseball United will stock the teams with players from international professional leagues, players with experience in the lower minor leagues in the U.S., and independent league players, as well as developing players from the countries where the league places franchises.

The Wolves and Falcons, along with the Mumbai Cobras and Karachi Monarchs, were the first four Baseball United franchises announced. Baseball United recently announced that it intends to add three franchises in Saudi Arabia and plans to have eight franchises for its first full season, which will begin in the 2024-25 winter league season.