Most informed Braves fans scoffed at the idea of demoting Dansby Swanson to AAA initially, but it is nearing the end of July and the college star is only hitting .216.
The Braves now have a decision to make. Should they leave Swanson up to figure it out at the big league level or should they opt to send him down to the minors?
The Braves are in a unique situation right now. They can afford to send down Swanson and replace him with Johan Camargo for the time being. Matt Adams slides in at first base with Freddie Freeman over at third when facing righties, and Camargo usually plays against lefties. Lately though, Camargo is seemingly in the starting lineup one way or another. With Sean Rodriguez back, this leaves Snitker with even more bodies to work with. Heck, Adonis Garcia could be back relatively soon as well.
The problem with sending Dansby down before was that he had no immediate replacement, but he does now. We saw the Cubs recently send down the struggling Kyle Schwarber for a fairly brief minor league stint a few weeks ago. Swanson could likely benefit from a similar demotion to see himself hit the ball and let the game slow down a bit. Swanson looked great last season for the team, but the fact remains that he really only played around one full season of professional ball. Though he was an advanced college prospect, this is pretty much unheard of. The Braves have been aggressive in promoting their young talent during the rebuild, and Dansby may have been rushed a bit. The Marietta High School product is a great prospect, but he could use a bit more polish and the Braves now have the luxury of making that happen.
It is also time to consider that Johan Camargo could be the real deal. His ability to play multiple positions does not make him an immediate threat to Swanson, as he could slide in at third or second base long term. He is very comparable to former Brave Martin Prado due to his versatility. Camargo has played third base most times Adams has not played, and he could take over this role full time when Adams contract expires after next season or if the team looks to move him. The team seems committed to keeping Adams for at least the remainder of the season. However, Camargo has started in place of Swanson a good bit as of late. This is not to say Swanson will be a bust, but keep in mind it was not too long ago that Braves fans thought Tyler Pastornicky was the future at shortstop. It ended up being the dark horse, Andrelton Simmons, who lived up to these expectations. The team could also look to see if he could be the answer at second base, and try to use Ozzie Albies as trade bait for a frontline starter. Albies was also initially a shortstop, so the team could move him to the other side of the diamond if Swanson never lives up to expectations.
Brian Snitker has done a great job mixing his offensive personnel despite the surplus of bodies he has worked with. He has played the splits game and it has worked out great for Atlanta. Swanson will get enough at bats at either level to continue developing, but it is time for the team to decide which level to choose. I will go out on a limb and say something that nobody in the Atlanta media wants to say publicly. My vote is send him back down for a brief stint, merely due to the lack to experience time he had in professional ball. With this being said, I do think that despite this technically being his rookie season, he is merely having a sophomore slump and is still the future at shortstop. He does not seem like the type to keep his head down, but most guys get their confidence back after a humbling demotion to the minors. The Braves are in a position to do it now before it is too late.