Braves promote top prospect to Gwinnett

Braves roster moves

In a bit of shocking news today, the Braves have promoted their top prospect AJ Smith-Shawver to Gwinnett, where he will start on Friday.

Now, a top prospect being promoted typically isn’t a surprise, but in this case, it’s a big one. Smith-Shawver is only 20-years-old and began the season in High-A Rome. He only logged seven innings in Mississippi, but this is something the Braves haven’t been hesitant to do in the past.┬áIf they believe a player is potentially ready to contribute at the major-league level, they are going to move him through the system quickly, and Smith-Shawver has done everything possible to impress the organization.

The 2021 7th-round selection began the season dominating batters in Rome, tossing 14 scoreless innings with a ridiculous 23 strikeouts. Mississippi didn’t seem to be much of a challenge either. Through two starts, Smith-Shawver was nearly perfect, allowing no runs over seven innings with nine strikeouts.

Still, this is a fast promotion, even by the Braves standards. If he were to make his MLB debut this year, he would be by far the youngest player in the majors. However, it’s a sign of what they think about the kid, who has stuff that can’t be taught, beginning with a high-90s fastball that moves like crazy, making it nearly impossible to square up.

It’s also an indication of what the Braves think about their rotation situation. Max Fried and Kyle Wright are expected to miss multiple months, and both of their spots need to be filled. Jared Shuster, Dylan Dodd, and Michael Soroka are options, but none of them seem like the answer through the early part of the season. The Braves are desperate, and nobody from outside the building is walking through the door to save them in May.

I’m not saying fans should expect Smith-Shawver in Atlanta right away, but this promotion leaves little doubt that it is a possibility. Every time he toes the rubber for Gwinnett, there will be plenty of eyes on him. If he can continue to perform like he has so far this season, the Braves track record suggests he will receive an opportunity in Atlanta.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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