Sunday, March 18, 2018

Acuna: What Number Will He Wear?

What number will Ronald Acuna wear for the Atlanta Braves? You’d think this detail has already been determined. Player photographs for 2018 have already been taken. I’ve seen one of Acuna but couldn’t tell what number he was wearing.

Acuna seems to have a preference for numbers ending in four. He wore 34 in Pearl and 24 in Gwinnett. Acuna also wore 24 last year in the futures game. In Australia he wore 42, a number retired in the United States for Jackie Robinson. In spring training Acuna has worn 82.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki currently wears 24. You’d think it would be unlikely Suzuki would start spring training wearing his 2017 number, then change before the season starts. The catcher is one of the few players who is out-hitting the red-hot Acuna this spring.

Bullpen catcher Marty Reed currently wears 34. Reed is new to the team and though he could change numbers, again you’d think that detail would’ve been worked out this past winter.

Rookie third baseman Rio Ruiz wore 14 last year. Rio is at best on the bubble to make the team, though his long term future with the team seems cloudy at best. Few players have shined wearing 14 for Atlanta, Andres Gallaraga being one. I seriously doubt Acuna will take the number from Ruiz.

No Brave will wear 44 again. That’s Hank’s number. Rookie pitcher Max Fried is wearing 54, and it’s doubtful Acuna would want a number that high. Below I’ve listed the current roster up to 54. Some players have a stronger hold on their numbers than others, but at this point its doubtful any will change for Acuna.

Newcomer Ryan Schimpf was awarded twelve. The former Ray was struggled this spring, and was just sent down to Gwinnett. Even so it’s doubtful Acuna will don twelve. The number is another no Brave has succeeded in.  

Other newcomers this year with primo numbers include first base coach Eric Young and catcher Chris Stewart. Young can keep number two, a number forever cursed in Braves lore by BJ Upton. Stewart will most likely start the season in Gwinnett, but eight is no more desirable than some of the open numbers.

What numbers are available? Nine, 13, 23, 27, 33, and 48 are currently vacant. All are decent baseball numbers. Forty-eight is usually a pitcher’s number. Thirteen carries the unlucky stigma. Hank Aaron’s brother Tommie wore 23, and for a long time it was rarely worn in Atlanta. Former manager Fredi Gonzalez sufficiently jinxed thirty-three, though its proximity to 34 makes 33 a sure finalist for the rookie. Nine is a coveted single-digit number Acuna could choose.

My guess is 27. It’s a classic baseball number, recently worn by slugger Fred McGriff. Golden boy Mike Trout wears 27 for the Angels. We shall see.

Note whatever number Acuna first wears, there’s a small possibility he could change (though I doubt it). When Dansby was first called up in 2016 he wore two, but changed to seven the next spring. Chipper was destined to wear 16 as a rookie in 1994 before suffering a season-ending injury late in spring training. I still consider it cool to be seen in a Swanson #2 or Jones #16 jersey.

Someone should check out the 2018 version of the MLB video game. Oftentimes the first clues of uniform changes and sleeve patches can be found there.

1. Ozzie Albies 2B
2. Eric Young 1BC
3. Dale Murphy CF
4. Walt Weiss BC
5. Freddie Freeman 1B
6. Bobby Cox MGR
7. Dansby Swanson SS
8. Chris Stewart C
10. Chipper Jones 3B
11. Ender Inciarte CF
12. Ryan Schimpf 3B
14. Rio Ruiz 3B
15. Sean Newcomb SP
16. Charlie Culbertson SS
17. Johan Camargo 3B
18. Jane Adams OF
19. Scott Kazmir P
20. Preston Tucker OF
21. Warren Spahn SP
22. Nick Markakis OF
24. Kurt Suzuki C
25. Tyler Flowers C
26. Mike Foltynewicz SP
28. Kevin Seitzer HC
29. John Smoltz SP
30. Pete Moylan RP
31. Greg Maddux SP
32. Brandon McCarthy P
34. Marty Reed BPC
35. Phil Neikro SP
36. Aaron Blair SP
37. Ron Washington 3BC
38. Arodys Vizcaino RP
39. Sam Freeman RP
40. AJ Minter P
41. Eddie Mathews 3B
42. Jackie Robinson 2B
43. Brian Snitker MGR
44. Hank Aaron RF
45. Matt Wisler SP
46. Chase Whitley P
47. Tom Glavine SP
49. Julio Teheran SP
50. Lucas Sims SP
51. Shane Carle P
52. Jose Ramirez P
53. Luiz Gohara SP
54. Max Fried SP

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