Ronald Acuña's brother makes surprise impression at Mets spring training

Luisangel Acuña is making waves at New York Mets spring training.

Luisangel Acuña, New York Mets
Luisangel Acuña, New York Mets / Elsa/GettyImages

The New York Mets acquired Luisangel Acuña from the Texas Rangers as part of the Max Scherzer trade. The 21-year-old spent last season in Double-A, split between Frisco and Binghamton. He slashed .294/.359/.410 with nine home runs and 63 RBI in 510 AB.

If you're thinking "Wow, he has the same last name as Ronald Acuña," that is because he is the reigning MVP's brother. New York didn't go out of their way to acquire Acuña because of his connection to Ronald, but it's a fun coincidence as the Mets try to build back their rivalry with the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. There's a decent chance we get to see the Acuña brothers duking it out for division crowns for the next decade.

We are probably a few years away from Acuña cementing his status as a full-time MLB starter, but he's already on the right track. In his first extended spring training opportunity on Monday, Acuña started at second base with the regular Mets infield — Pete Alonso at first, Brett Baty at third, and Francisco Lindor at short.

Luisangel Acuña shows out in first Mets spring training start

The results were highly promising. Acuña went 2-for-3 against the Washington Nationals with a couple solid ropes into the outfield. He also defended his position well, despite coming through the minors at shortstop. With Lindor in the mix, Acuña's Mets future could depend largely on his comfort level fielding second base. New manager Carlos Mendoza went out of his way to establish chemistry between the two middle infielders. Here's what he told Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post:

"[It is] important for [Acuña and Lindor] to create that connection, not only off the field but on the field."

Lindor has taken Acuña under his wing, offering the talented prospect advice on how to eat and how to process the game.

At the plate, Acuña operated with the poise of a veteran. Mendoza was impressed with the youngster's plate discipline.

"He got down 0-2 in his first at-bat and then got back in the count. He had really good takes on a couple of tough pitches. That for me right away — I said something in the dugout, like, ‘All right, that looks good right there.’"

The 5-foot-8 speedster has a long way to go before he remotely approaches his brother's stature in the MLB, but the Mets will settle for a productive, starting-level infielder opposite Lindor. If Acuña is ahead of the curve and on the MLB fast track, New York is going to quickly forget about the brief, extremely painful Scherzer era.

Mendoza appears fully confident in Acuña's ability to transition to second base.

"Looks good around the base, the footwork, the way he turns the double play. Obviously, the range is going to play up on second base, but he’s pretty comfortable there even though he’s more like a natural shortstop."

Acuña has expressed a comfort level at the position, so the Mets are officially cooking with gas.

The 2023 trade deadline was a sobering admission from the Mets' former front office — a full-blown reconciliation with the fact that New York blew the highest payroll in baseball on a lousy team. Now, the Mets are trying to chart a path forward under new president David Stearns. While it's unclear what the future holds for the current stars on the roster, Lindor is the Mets' true foundation. Their North Star. If Acuña is developing that chemistry, it's a positive sign.

It's best to maintain a patient perspective here, but Acuña is clearly ahead of schedule. If not this season, maybe next season he starts to really crack the MLB radar. The Mets would undoubtedly love to get the league's No. 66 overall prospect in the mix sooner than later.

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