Atlanta Braves News: Ronald Acuña Jr. wins the Liga Venezolana Home Run Derby

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 08: Ronald Acuna Jr. of the National League All-Stars bats during T-Mobile Home Run Derby on July 8, 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 08: Ronald Acuna Jr. of the National League All-Stars bats during T-Mobile Home Run Derby on July 8, 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Ronald Acuña Jr., the Atlanta Braves star outfielder, blasted 32 total home runs on his way to a Home Run Derby win in the Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional despite facing Major League competition.

Acuña Jr., who has been the center of Atlanta Braves news for the past month after being granted permission to play an extended period in the LVBP with his hometown club over the Winter months, participated in a league Home Run Derby on Monday night.

With just one glance at the tournament bracket, it’s extremely apparent that Acuña, who struggled with power in the 2022 season on the back of his still-rehabbing knee, was going to have his work cut out for him.

From everyday MLB talents like Juan Yepez, Eugenio Suarez, and Eduardo Escober to certified MLB stars like Jose Altuve, Wilson Contreras, Gleyber Torres, and fellow Atlanta Braves all-star William Contreras, the lineup was set to deliver an enthralling competition.

In the first round, Acuña drew former Braves minor leaguer and good friend Juan Yepez. Despite their friendship, Acuña showed no mercy as he got off to a blistering start, smashing 14 home runs to Yepez’s zero. It was the most home runs hit among all participants in the first round.

Acuña wasn’t the only Atlanta Braves star to win his first-round matchup either. Catcher William Contreras managed to defeat Seattle Mariners third baseman, Eugenio Suarez, seven to three as he clobbered a few in the last thirty seconds to run up the score.

In the second round, the competition would consist of the five advanced players with the two top home run totals advancing to the final. William Contreras put up a valiant effort, hitting 10 home runs, but this was only good enough to match his brother Wilson and Balbino Fuenmayor.

With Diego Rincones having hit 12 home runs, the onus was on Ronald Acuña Jr. to step up to the plate and hit at least 11.

Sitting at 10 home runs with 11 seconds left, he delivered.

In the final round, it seemed like the physical toll of two rounds of swinging had fatigued Rincones as he only mustered five home runs.

From that point, it was only a matter of how long for the firing Acuña. To finally crown himself as a Home Run Derby champion in three tries – two in Major League Baseball – he hit the six home runs required with 1:15 left to spare.

Like most of you, a moment of breathlessness occurred as I watched those final celebrations. Clearly, though, Acuña had his knee’s safety in mind and took it relatively easy. He was later crowned with an impressive-looking, Pepsi-donned trophy to the tune of fireworks.

Acuña was sure to play up the moment as best he could as he also took the opportunity to announce to thousands of fans that he had been granted permission to participate in the LVBP playoffs.

For Ronald Acuña Jr., his quest for rekindled greatness with his hometown Tiburones rolls on.

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Hopefully, on top of building Acuña’s confidence for the 2023 season, this stint in Venezuela has rebuilt his power stroke. The Atlanta Braves desperately need him back to his best in the leadoff spot.

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