Here are the things to look for as top prospect Austin Riley plays his first full season

The expectations will be high for Austin Riley, but what should we look for to judge his first full pro season?

Austin Riley had a very impressive first season of pro ball. After Riley was drafted last June, he played in the Gulf Coast League and in Danville. Overall, Riley hit .304 with 12 home runs, 40 RBI and a .389 on base percentage in 217 plate appearances.

He's likely to go to Rome to begin his first full season of pro baseball. Riley will be 19 years old next Saturday, April 2. And if history tells us anything, Riley needs a really good season in Rome, the Low-A South Atlantic League, to show us he's really a special prospect.

Let's look at some other Braves' stars to see how old they were in Low-A:
Ryan Klesko - Turned 19 in June of that 1990 season in Sumter
Chipper Jones - Turned 19 in the third week of the 1991 season in Macon
Andruw Jones - Turned 18 in the third week of the 1995 season in Macon
Jeff Francoeur - 19 years old in 2003 with Rome
Brian McCann - 19 years old in 2003 with Rome
Jason Heyward - Turned 19 in August of his first full season in 2008 with Rome
Freddie Freeman - Was 18 the entire season in 2008 with Rome

Let's look at some other Braves' stars to see what they did in their first full pro season:
Ryan Klesko - .315 BA - 17 HR - 85 RBI - .385 OBP - Between Low-A Sumter and High-A Durham
Chipper Jones - .326 BA - 15 HR - 98 RBI - .407 OBP - Macon
Andruw Jones - .277 BA - 25 HR - 100 RBI - .372 OBP - Macon
Jeff Francoeur - .281 BA - 14 HR - 68 RBI - .325 OBP - Rome
Brian McCann - .290 BA - 12 HR - 71 RBI - .329 OBP - Rome
Jason Heyward - .323 BA - 11 HR - 52 RBI - .388 OBP - Rome
Freddie Freeman - .316 BA - 18 HR - 95 RBI - .378 OBP - Rome

How many plate appearances did these prospects have in the minor leagues before making their MLB debut:
Ryan Klesko - 1739
Chipper Jones - 1909
Andruw Jones - 1412
Jeff Francoeur - 1544
Brian McCann - 1184
Jason Heyward - 1003
Freddie Freeman - 1759

Riley will likely need AT LEAST two full seasons in the minor leagues before he's ready for Atlanta. That should give him around 1200 minor league plate appearances - if he stays healthy - going into the 2018 season. But he likely needs to put up solid numbers, as he did in the GCL and Danville last season, in Rome to get into the conversation to join the listed Atlanta stars as a player that has an excellent chance at becoming an impact player for the Braves.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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