Some days you watch Mike Foltynewicz pitch and he looks like an all-star. Other times, it looks like opposing hitters are participating in batting practice. Folty has the makeup you want in a pitcher, as he can touch 98 mph on his fastball consistently throughout a game. Impressive, for a starter. But we are still waiting to see him put it together for a full season. Foltynewicz appeared to be on track for a breakout season in 2017 and even had his ERA below 4.00 until early August. He had a few rough starts to end the season, but expectations remain high. However, he will soon start to feel the pressure from the young arms rising through the system. If Foltynewicz does not perform in 2018, he could become the odd man out of the rotation seemingly overnight. The Braves will at the very least have to consider moving Folty to the bullpen if things do not work out for him this season. After all, it could be for the best. In 2017, hitters had just a .636 OPS against Folty in their first plate appearance. However, hitters in their second plate appearance against him hit for a .907 OPS.
Much like Foltynewicz, Swanson faces a make or break season because of the competition for his spot on the roster. If Swanson does not rebound from his sophomore slump, Ozzie Albies or Johan Camargo could be in the mix to take his job over at shortstop as its each player’s respective natural position. We all know new general manager Alex Anthopolous is in “wait and see” mode with the team’s assets, which puts even more pressure on Dansby. In fairness to him, the Braves did rush him to the big leagues, and it is way too early to give up on him. But another down year for Swanson could change the team’s future plans as they will likely look to make a push next offseason.
Camargo was never considered a prospect but has become a dark horse in the organization that has now earned a starting job. Though he will, unfortunately, begin the season on the disabled list, Camargo impressed as a utility player for the Braves in 2017. He has an incredible infield arm and hit for great contact last season. His lack of power likely does not project for third base long-term, however, which makes you wonder if he could end up unseating Dansby if he struggles. Austin Riley has also likely been deemed the team’s long-term plan at the hot corner. Camargo is unlike Swanson and Foltynewicz in the sense that the organization is actually looking to see whether he can sustain the type of success he had the year before. Do not forget, when Andrelton Simmons came up to the big leagues, it was Tyler Pastornicky who was the highly regarded prospect. The Braves could see a similar situation unfold with Swanson and Camargo if the two put up the same type of production this season.