The rise of AJ Smith-Shawver is something few players in the history of the game will ever experience. He began the year in High-A Rome. The hype around him was palpable coming into the season, but nobody expected him to contribute in Atlanta this year, at least not in June.
However, 33 innings later across three levels, Smith-Shawver received the call on the final days of May, and yesterday, we saw him for the first time with the major-league club. If he was nervous, you couldn’t tell. Smith-Shawver looked every bit like a major-league pitcher, tossing 2.1 hitless innings and helping the Braves to a huge series win over the Diamondbacks. It wasn’t any easy situation to be thrust into, but he proved to be up for the moment.
Now, the Braves appear to be giving him an even more prominent role with the team. Following their decision to option Michael Soroka back to Gwinnett, there’s an opening in the rotation, and the most logical person to fill it is the 20-year-old phenom.
On the latest episode of SportsTalkATL, we discuss the rise of Smith-Shawver, his dominant MLB debut, and his role with the team moving forward.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire