Happy Birthday Austin Riley

Bill Shanks

Happy 23 birthday to Braves third baseman Austin Riley.

In what is yet is another shame the season was delayed Riley had such a great spring training for the Braves. He was making it very difficult for the Braves to think about sending him down to Triple-A Gwinnett to start the 2020 season.

Riley hit .357 in the Grapefruit League, with two home runs and four runs batted in. He was really hitting the ball hard, as well, and manager Brian Snitker admitted it was going to be a difficult decision whether Riley or Johan Camargo would be the starter at third base.

Now, with the season on hold, and with rosters expected to be expanded once the season starts, Riley will probably make the MLB roster no matter what. The Braves will want his power on the roster.

Riley came up with a bang last summer. He hit .324 with a .368 on base percentage, nine home runs and 25 RBI in his first 76 plate appearances.

His fast start helped get the Braves on track in late-May, early-June last season, as they went 12-6 in those 18 games.

Unfortunately, Riley came back down to Earth. He hit only .192 after that torrid start, with nine home runs and 24 RBI but in 221 plate appearances.

But in Riley’s minor league career, he always did better the second time around or when he reached the next level. In 2017, Riley hit just .252 for High-A Florida, but when he was promoted to Double-A Mississippi he hit .315.

Then when the Braves returned Riley to Mississippi in 2018, he hit .333 before being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit .282. And when Riley started the 2019 season back in the International League, he hit .293 with 15 home runs in 194 plate appearances before being promoted to Atlanta.

The Braves have high hopes Riley will do much better in his first full season, if you can call what we will have this year a full season. He will obviously have competition, with Camargo also wanting the job, so that could inspire him to be consistent and become a regular third baseman for the Braves.

Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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