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Spin for Stars: #79 - Luisangel Acuña
Zac Beck continues his series where Dynasty Dugout members randomly select a prospect for Beck to discuss.
It’s time to talk about Ronald’s brother. He’s worth discussing regardless of familial ties and has a promising minor league track record dating back to his signing out of Venezuela in 2018.
As a reminder, this series is based on the spin of a random number wheel and is an exercise in diving deeper on prospects between full-rank updates. The wheel is numbered 1 to 300, so we’ll get a wide array of names as we progress and it might lead to rank changes in real time. Special thank you to @OtES in the Dynasty Dugout discord group for the spin!
Luisangel Acuña, Shortstop
Team: Texas Rangers
Age / Height / Weight: 21, 5’8, 181 lbs
Overall Prospect Rank: 79
Positional Prospect Rank: 17
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Right from the get-go, I want to make clear that I think Acuña plays better in rotisserie leagues, but that does not mean I’m not interested in points formats. He’s an above-average runner with a neon green light on the basepaths, which I expect to continue as he progresses through the upper minors and eventually the big league level, where rule changes have inflated stolen base totals more than most had anticipated. Increased prevalence of attempts and better success rates have closed the gap in value between formats to a degree (as much of the value came from scarcity in roto), but there is still a difference worth noting. Those extra swipes are nice – we’ll take the points that come with them – but in terms of marginal value added, they still aren’t quite as important in points formats. 30 steals at the big league level (a number he’s eclipsed in every season including the first half of 2023) translates to 60 points in Fantrax Standard scoring, equivalent to 15 home runs. That’s valuable any way you slice it.
Luisangel was an international signee in the 2018 class that featured Francisco Alvarez, Marco Luciano, Diego Cartaya, and Noelvi Marte. Acuña signed for just $425K, the 53rd highest bonus in the class, and notably less than the four listed above. It’s a good reminder of how volatile international signings are and how difficult parsing how a 16- or 17-year-old ballplayer might progress relative to his peers over a 5 year window. Getting in on promising DSL and Complex League breakouts early can yield among the highest ROI in all of dynasty fantasy baseball but are simultaneously among the riskiest assets that bust at an extraordinary rate.
Throughout his minor league tenure Acuña has posted a 105 wRC+ at every level with the notable exception of his initial stint at AA in 2022 that spanned 169 plate appearances. That aberration appears to be largely BABIP-driven (.274 last year and .372 at the same level in 2023) and I’m always inclined to give grace when players are jumping from A+ to AA. His future offensive contribution seems to hinge on whether he can make a tangible change in approach and batted ball profile. He’s a free swinger with manageable contact rates and will need to exercise patience in identifying pitches he can drive for damage. He beats the ball into the ground with regularity (48.2% GB% in 2023, a career low) which caps his XBH potential. At peak and with those adjustments, I think he could be a 15-18 home run bat that sprinkles in 30 doubles and 25 stolen bases while playing great infield defense.
Look for the Rangers to potentially trade him at this year’s deadline. Their infield is locked up for the foreseeable future between Semien (7 years, $175M), Seager (10 years, $325M), and Jung (arbitration eligible in 2027). Acuña’s defensive ability should make him an attractive target for teams looking to shore up the left side of their infield with young talent and the Rangers will likely be attempting to bolster their outfield or rotation while they lead the AL West.