Atlanta Braves

Braves call up hot-hitting prospect Austin Riley

As the Atlanta Braves try to stay competitive in the NL East, and with an injury opening the door, they have called up top prospect Austin Riley.

At 21-21, and 5-5 in their last 10 games entering Wednesday, the Atlanta Braves are the definition of a .500 team right now. But they’re set to give their offense a nice boost, as Austin Riley will be called up from Triple-A Gwinnett and outfielder Ender Inciarte (back) will be put on the injured list.

Riley is a top-five prospect in the Braves system and a top-35 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. A third baseman by trade during his minor league career, he has seen time in the left field recently and will likely primarily step in there for the Braves with Inciarte sidelined.

But it’s his bat that got Riley promoted to the big leagues. Over 37 games (162 plate appearances) for Gwinnett this year, he has a .299/.377/.681 slash line with 15 home runs, 10 doubles and 39 RBI while cutting  his strikeout rate by a little more than 10 percent compared to 2018. In May alone, he’s hitting .360 with 10 home runs, 23 RBI and a 1.478 OPS.

If Riley continues to hit upon arriving in the big leagues, the Braves will have a good problem once Inciarte is healthy. Despite a lack of production early this season, Inciarte has been a useful player. Matt Joyce has been productive in limited playing time thus far (.275, .866 OPS), and Josh Donaldson has 16 RBI and a .909 OPS since April 20 (85 plate appearances). Utilityman Johan Camargo has options left, if it comes down to a roster crunch.

The Braves have been above league average in most offensive categories so far this season. But Riley’s hot streak this month had him on the verge of a call up, and Inciarte’s injury Tuesday night was a well-time coincidence to clearly open the door.

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