Braves: What’s next for Vaughn Grissom?

MLB: APR 27 Marlins at Braves

The Gwinnett Stripers wrapped up their 2023 campaign on Sunday with a 7-6 win over the Durham Bulls. Vaughn Grissom was one of the stars of the show, finishing his season with three hits, including a double and a stolen base, in four plate appearances.

On the season, Grissom did everything the Braves could have asked and then some, finishing with a .330/.419/.501 slash line and eight homers. He also broke the Gwinnett record for doubles in a season with 36 and walked (56 BBs) nearly as much as he struck out (66 Ks).

To some, Grissom’s campaign will automatically be viewed as a disappointment. There was hype built around him all offseason as he was expected to fill the shoes of Dansby Swanson after he departed in free agency.

That didn’t happen. Orlando Arcia won the starting job out of camp, which puzzled some, but we quickly realized why when Arcia went down with an injury and Vaughn Grissom was forced to fill in at the major-league level. He was a mess defensively, and there are certainly questions about if he’ll ever be able to play shortstop in Atlanta. But what there are no questions about is Grissom’s bat.

At just 22 years old, Grissom posted a .330 batting average, .419 OBP, and .921 OPS, easily the best marks of any player his age at the AAA level. He’s an elite contact bat, and there’s the possibility that he can grow into even more power as he ages. With a full season of at-bats at the major-league level, I fully expect that he would experience plenty of success with the stick, but can that happen with the Braves?

At the moment, Vaughn Grissom doesn’t exactly fit anywhere on the diamond. There could be an opening in left field if the Braves move on from Eddie Rosario, but the Braves have yet to really try Grissom out in the outfield. Perhaps that happens over the offseason and during next Spring Training, but it’s hard to see him starting in left field in 2024.

I still think the most realistic spot for Grissom to take over is at shortstop. He got a lot of run there defensively in Gwinnett, and I’m sure he will be spending a ton of time with Ron Washington this offseason. Orlando Arcia was everything the Braves could have asked for in 2023, but whether his offense is sustainable is a legitimate concern. This was by far the best season at the plate Arcia has had in his career. It should once again be an open competition between the two of them going into Spring Training, even if Arcia should receive the benefit of the doubt.

The Braves clearly still value Vaughn Grissom or he would have been dealt at the trade deadline for pitching. He’s one of the bright young offensive players in the minors. I’m hopeful they can figure out a more permanent role for him next season. If not, one would think they finally end up selling him for a piece that can contribute this offseason.

Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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