For pretty much all of his life, Austin Riley has played his impressive form of baseball in the southeast. Born in Memphis, he would play high school ball in Mississippi and was selected by the Atlanta Braves 41st overall in the 2015 MLB Draft.
The southeast region remains his for the taking on the biggest stage at SunTrust Park. While that remains a year or two away, the 20-year old third baseman reached Double-A this past season and earned an invite to the Arizona Fall League.
Debuting in rookie ball at age 18, he instantly showed the home run power that Atlanta was so excited about. Knocking 12 out of the park between two Rookie clubs, he drove in 40 runs in 60 games while slugging .544.
He spent the entire 2016 season in Low-A and smacked 20 homers. Though he struck out 147 times in 129 games, he managed a .271 average and 39 doubles as well as stealing three bases.
For the first time in 2017, he split his season between levels and showed a lot of progression upon reaching the critical minor league stage of Double-A.
First, in High-A Florida, he drove in 47 runs and would be promoted at the ripe of 20 to Jackson, less than two hours from his old stomping grounds in Southaven.
Upon his promotion, he turned an already good season into one that could signal a jumping off point in his career. In 48 games he slashed .315/.389/.511 with eight home runs, nine doubles, 27 RBI and a pair of stolen bases.
He has continued his strong momentum in the Arizona Fall League, so far playing in 10 games, posting an attractive .357/.426/.810 line with four long balls and 14 RBI.
Riley does a little bit of everything offensively and shows a dynamic flair that answers why he was a first round pick. Defensively, he could end up at any of baseball’s four corners (first base, third base, left field and right field) but for now is showing steady improvement at third base.