It may be the birthday of Hall of Famer and Atlanta Braves legend John Smoltz, but for Braves fans, Wednesday is Austin Riley Day, as their top hitting prospect Austin Riley has finally been called up, with Ender Inciarte likely headed to the injured list. So, if you haven't seen him play, here are three things Braves fans can expect from Austin Riley.
3. Underrated Defense
Austin Riley is a third baseman by trade, but he'll likely be playing a lot of left field, which is why he was making some starts in the outfield down in Triple-A. I'm sure he'll have his moments where he doesn't look fluid, but he's improved at the hot corner because of his commitment at conditioning and keeping his body in good shape. Oh, and the former high school pitcher has a cannon for an arm, which could lead to him throwing some runners out who test him. I'm not telling you he's a future Gold Glover, but he should be able to hold his own out there.
2. Hit Tool
Riley is a big kid who can drive the ball with authority, but he's much more than a slugger. Riley can flat hit. The 22-year-old hasn't hit below .270 since rookie ball, and thus far in Triple-A this year, he's hitting .299 with just 31 strikeouts and 18 walks in 37 games. Riley has some swing-and-miss to his game, but he's cut his strikeout rate and is walking more.
1. Light-Tower Power
For his minor league career, Riley owns a .505 slugging percentage, including an incredible .681 slugging percentage this year. Riley has 15 home runs at Gwinnett this year, seven of which have come in the last 10 games. Riley has as much raw power as we've seen from a prospect. So, pitchers beware, because you miss your spot and he's sending it WAY over the fence.