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WBC: Braves’ Acuna Jr. In For LVBP Final Series, Likely Out For WBC

 Leif Skodnick  |    Jan 23rd, 2023 12:49pm EST

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
Jan. 23, 2023

Atlanta Braves superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. will play for Tiburones de La Guaira in Venezuela in the LVPB final series tonight against Leones del Caracas.

Acuna, 25, will serve as the DH, and there’s no limit on the number of games he can suit up in. If Tiburones de La Guaira makes it to the Caribbean Series, Acuña will play in that event as well. The news of his appearance in the winter league final was reported by Fernando Alvarez.

He also wanted to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but the Atlanta Braves most likely won’t allow it due to injury concerns, Acuna said last week. He tore his ACL in 2021 halfway through the season. In 2022, he played in 119 games, but his numbers saw a significant drop-off. He hit 15 home runs, had 52 RBI and a batting average of .266 and his OPS was the lowest of his career at .764.

Before the injury, his average OPS was .925 from 2018-2021. In his career, he has 120 home runs, 296 RBI and 107 stolen bases. Speed is a huge part of his game, and he was still able to steal 29 bases last year.

Acuna has played all three outfield positions, but at this point, he’s strictly a right fielder. The Atlanta Braves also DH’d him last year to ease him back into game action. Acuña broke out in 2019, hitting 41 home runs, 101 RBI and stole 37 bases. This was the only full season he played, which consisted of 156 games. 

Venezuela will be In Pool D in the World Baseball Classic with Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Israel and Nicaragua. Some notable players on Venezuela’s preliminary roster are Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Lopez, Jose Altuve, Gleyber Torres and Salvador Pérez. Avisail García and Anthony Santander are in the outfield. 

Acuña has played 10 games in the LVBP with Tiburones de La Guaira. He had a batting average of .441, two home runs and six RBI. Tiburones de La Guaria is looking to end a 30-year championship drought.

Acuna will join fellow big leaguer Juan Yepez in the outfield. Yepez, 24, and plays for the St. Louis Cardinals and hit 12 home runs in 253 at-bats in his first big league season last year.

Leones del Caracas features Acuna’s Atlanta Braves teammate infielder Orlando Arcia. Arcia, 28, hit nine home runs in 209 at-bats. In his career, he has 53 home runs in eight seasons. Arcia has also spent six seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jhoulys Chacin is another big leaguer on Leones del Caracas, and will start game one of the LVBP championship series. Chacin is 35 years old and has pitched 14 seasons with 85 wins. He spent the majority of his career with the Colorado Rockies and also spent time with the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and several other teams.

Tiburones de La Guaira will put Ramon Garcia, Jr. on the mound. Game one will take place in Caracas at the Ciudad Universitaria Stadium.

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Leif Skodnick