Even though you never like to see it, Orlando Arcia‘s injury could go down in Braves history as a blessing in disguise. It forced Alex Anthopoulos’ hand to aggressively call up his top prospect Vaughn Grissom after just 22 games in AA. There’s no guarantee it will work, but if yesterday was a sign of things to come, the Braves might have found yet another star player ready to contribute at the tender age of 21.
Braves top prospect Vaughn Grissom just absolutely blasted his first big league home run and pimped the shit out of it. pic.twitter.com/uzBv4mUNBm
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) August 11, 2022
That’s not the bat flip of a player that lacks confidence. Grissom also came to the plate in the ninth inning and picked up another hit on a line drive to left field. He then stole second, becoming the youngest player to hit a home run and steal a base in his MLB debut in the modern era.
The Braves No. 1 ranked prospect Vaughn Grissom homered and stole a base tonight in his MLB Debut.
At 21 years and 217 days old, he became the youngest player to hit a HR and steal a base in his MLB debut in the Modern Era (since 1900). pic.twitter.com/bMV5K6b74M
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 11, 2022
It’s only one game, and expectations must be tempered, but there’s reason to be excited.
Grissom was tearing up AA ball, hitting .364 with three homers, three doubles, and a triple through 22 games. Those are significantly better offensive numbers than Michael Harris II had at the same level before he received the call. In fact, there’s enough evidence to suggest Grissom is a better offensive player than Harris is right now. Grissom has performed better with the stick at every level.
Defense, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Harris is already a Gold Glove caliber center fielder, and while Grissom is no slouch with the glove, they aren’t comparable in that area. Still, Vaughn Grissom’s bat could keep him up at the major-league level for good, potentially affecting negotiations with Dansby Swanson.
Swanson will be a free agent at season’s end and is amid a career year, already totaling 4.2 bWAR with 50 games left in the season. He’s become a fantastic all-around player and should be regarded as one of the ten best shortstops in the game today.
As a result, Swanson will get paid this offseason, whether it be by the Braves or somebody else. However, I don’t imagine Grissom’s success, or lack of it, will steer Anthopolous and company one way or another regarding negotiations with Swanson.
Positions aside, Swanson is a pillar of the Braves franchise. He’s the longest-tenured member of the team and represents everything the organization stands for; you don’t just let guys like that walk without doing everything in your power to retain them.
Furthermore, Grissom’s athleticism and youth make him a perfect candidate for a position change. The Braves infield is stacked, so if he’s going to fit in Atlanta, it was always likely that he would have to transition to the outfield, where the Braves currently have a glaring hole.
Once Ozzie Albies returns, assuming he does this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Grissom received an opportunity to play some left field, providing he continues to impress with his offense. It’s not like Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna are exactly defensive wizards out there.
One game is not enough to declare a player major-league ready, but if I had to go out on a limb, I believe Grissom will stay with the major-league team for the remainder of the season. At the very least, he’s a substantial upgrade over Ehire Adrianza, and it’s very possible that he gets some reps in left field if his success continues. However, what Vaughn Grissom does shouldn’t affect what happens with Dansby Swanson. Like they have with Austin Riley, Matt Olson, and even Freddie Freeman, Swanson will receive a fair offer. How much longer he stays in Atlanta will strictly be determined by whether he wants to be here or not.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire