When Jason Heyward launched a Carlos Zambrano fastball high into the Atlanta sky on Opening Day 2010 before a packed house that was mostly there to see the youngster’s debut, more than 50,000 Atlantans had a magical experience they’ll never forget.
Fast-forward eight years and the Braves have yet another “face of the franchise” waiting in the wings, and hopefully, this one will be in Atlanta for a few more years than Heyward. Outfielder Ronald Acuna was the Grapefruit League’s best hitter this spring before the Braves sent him back to the minors on Tuesday, making a decision that’ll benefit the franchise down the road.
To simplify this decision down to dollars and cents, here’s the deal: If the 20-year-old phenom spends no more than 172 of 187 days of the 2018 season on the Braves’ big-league roster, the franchise will be able to keep him for an extra year on the end of his contract, per the current collective bargaining agreement. So the Braves have plenty of incentive to keep him in Gwinnett for the first 15 days of the season – it’ll buy them another year of Acuna.
What that means is Acuna will likely get his first big-league call-up on or just after April 13. The Braves will be in Chicago that weekend for a series against the Cubs, and it’s entirely possible Acuna will make his debut there.
Or they might hold him for Monday, April 16, when the Braves return home to host the Philadelphia Phillies. Regardless, it’s all but guaranteed that, barring injury, Acuna will play his first game at SunTrust Park on April 16.
The secondhand ticket market doesn’t seem to have a clue.
If you’re looking to see the debut of the highly anticipated prospect, StubHub had plenty of tickets for that Monday night game for as cheap as $6 as of Wednesday night, and lower-level seats in left field for as little as $7. That’s all it’ll cost you (plus Stubhub’s awful fees) to sit behind Acuna – and possibly snag his first home run ball – on the night he takes his first steps toward the Hall of Fame (hopefully).
I’d advise you jump on this opportunity now before the rest of the world realizes just how special that Monday night game will be.Follow @Sean_Breslin