Braves analyst thinks Braden Shewmake will make Opening Day roster

Braves roster moves

There have been a number of shocking developments for the Braves during Spring Training, some good and some bad. However, one thing I don’t think anybody could have predicted coming into the season is Braden Shewmake making the Opening Day roster. The former first-round pick from 2019 wasn’t even on the radar following another lackluster performance on the farm in 2022, but there’s hype surrounding Shewmake now, and’s Mark Bowman has him making the Opening Day roster as the team’s starting shortstop over Vaughn Grissom.

Choosing between Shewmake and Grissom feels like picking a No. 8 vs. No. 9 game in the NCAA tourney. Shewmake is the better defensive option. He might benefit from another month or two of at-bats at the Triple-A level. But with Grissom not playing shortstop for a fourth straight day on Saturday, I’ll follow the clues and trust my gut.

Bowman’s analysis is correct in regard to Shewmake’s defensive ability. He’s better than Grissom in that area, but he leaves much to be desired at the plate. Despite looking competent offensively so far in Spring Training, Shewmake has been far from it since joining the upper levels of the minors.

In 2021, the Texas A&M product hit just .228 with a .672 OPS in AA. Those numbers did improve quite a bit last season with the Stripers, but he still left a lot to be desired, hitting .259 with a .715 OPS over 76 games. Shewmake may be ready for major-league baseball defensively, but the last two seasons have painted a picture of who he is offensively. If he ends up being the starting shortstop for the Braves on Opening Day, it will make Alex Anthopoulos look very foolish for not adding a starting caliber shortstop to the roster over the offseason.

In my opinion, Grissom remains the leader in the clubhouse for the starting shortstop job. It is peculiar that the Braves kept him out of the lineup for five consecutive games, but he’s back starting at shortstop today against the Rays. His ability defensively at the position is concerning, but he’s head and shoulders ahead of Shewmake with the bat, and I don’t think Grissom has done anything to lose the job in Spring Training, unless there is something going on behind closed doors that we’re not seeing.

Regardless, this situation isn’t as clear-cut as it seemed coming into camp. Braden Shewmake has emerged as a legitimate candidate to make the Opening Day roster, and the Braves could want to allow Grissom to build up some confidence in AAA before throwing him into the fire. I’m not sure that’s the best course of action, but I think the Braves are definitely regretting not adding a more proven veteran to the mix, and now it appears to be too late.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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