The Braves shortstop of the future is heating up.
— Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) April 28, 2022
2021 AA Season
Braden Shewmake, a 1st round pick in 2019, understandably struggled last year after losing 2020 to the pandemic. But despite a slash line of .228/.271/.401, the Braves saw enough to promote him to AAA this season. Shewmake suffered from some poor luck, recording just a .262 BABIP, and outside of a brutal performance in May, his numbers weren’t nearly as abysmal — .253 average and .436 slugging percentage.
Given the first round pick spent on Shewmake and his meteoric rise through the minor leagues, it’s fair to assume that Atlanta believes he can start at shortstop at some point. With Dansby slated to hit free agency this winter, that time could come as soon as next season.
Shewmake is making a case to be considered for the job. His defense has been up to par, and he’s slashed .295/.318/.443 with two homers and three steals. His blend of speed and power make the 24-year-old a perennial threat for 20 homers and 20 steals. That would slot in nicely at the bottom of the Braves order, and could be even better than what Swanson has provided over the last few seasons, which have been the best of his career.
The Shortstop Situation
One of the prevailing storylines going into 2023 will be the Braves shortstop situation, barring a Dansby Swanson extension, which seems highly unlikely at this point. He leads the National League in strikeouts and just hasn’t shown enough consistency to warrant the commitment from the organization. Combine that with the likelihood that Swanson’s defense will decline over the course of his next contract, and it feels like a long shot that he’s retained by the Braves.
However, the Braves may not feel comfortable relying on a rookie either. They have money and could look to upgrade significantly at the position. Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts could all be available, and they fit right into the Braves’ timeline.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire