From starting to play baseball at age 3, to being the youngest
player in the major leagues, Ronald Acuna Jr. has never lost
Acuna burst onto the Major League Baseball scene earlier this year after rocketing through the Braves minor league system in just three seasons. The Braves signed him as a 16-year-old in 2014 from the international market out of Venezuela. The outfielder isn't the first in his family to play professional baseball though. His father, Ronald Acuna Sr., played minor league ball for the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers, but never advanced above Double-A.
The baseball pedigree doesn't stop there. Ronald Jr.'s grandfather was a pitcher in his day, and his family is also related to Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Acuna Jr. was born with talent in his genes and his hard work off the field has secured his place in Braves history. All of this, though, begins with his faith in God.
"The most important thing is to never lose your faith," he told Sports Spectrum. "Just because your faith is what helps maintain you, especially during the tough times that happen on the field and off the field."
It could have been easy for Acuna to lose faith in his lifelong dream of playing professional ball. He wasn't a highly-touted prospect as an amateur, and didn't sign for the type of money you would see other top international prospects agree upon. But God had other plans for the soon-to-be phenom.
Since signing with Atlanta, the Braves have challenged him along the way. The Braves chose to have him skip the Dominican summer league, and sent him to rookie-level ball in the Gulf Coast League, no easy task for a young international player.
In 2016, Acuna suffered a thumb injury and was limited to just 40 minor league games. After he recovered, he was sent to play a stint of 20 winter ball games in Australia, another daunting task in a land where very few speak Spanish. But he never lost the faith.