The Braves recently reinstated Orlando Arcia from the injured list, and in a corresponding move, the club optioned Vaughn Grissom to Triple-A Gwinnett.
The move was somewhat surprising because Arcia returned without a rehab assignment after reportedly impressing the staff, still possessing his strength and timing. He was off to a scorching start to the season, slashing .333/.400/.511 with a 149 wRC+ in 13 games. However, it wasn’t surprising that they sent Grissom back down.
The 22-year-old made his major league debut last year in place of Ozzie Albies and impressed in 41 games, posting a .291/.353/.440 slash line, good for a 121 wRC+. There were concerns, particularly his 21.8% strikeout rate and .350 BABIP, but his defense was always the biggest question mark.
It’s evident Vaughn Grissom is just not ready for the show defensively, accumulating six errors in only 18 starts. It’s not just errors either. Advanced metrics paint the same picture. His -4 OAA is in the 3rd percentile among MLB fielders and ranks third-worst among defensive shortstops. Moreover, his bat was no longer a bright spot; his wRC+ was 29% below the league average.
It’s evident he needs some more seasoning in the minors before he’s ready to be the long-term answer. Hell, he might never become the Braves’ starting shortstop; after all, the club did extend Orlando Arcia through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. If Grissom isn’t ready to take the reins, Atlanta has a more than capable piece in Arcia. However, Ron Washington still remains bullish on Grissom, citing Jeremy Peña’s early struggles.
“Arcia got the job out of spring training, and did a hell of a job for us to start the year,” Washington said, via the Athletic. “Shewmake and Grissom, I look at them as the future. And it’s hard sometimes to let kids grow and understand all the nuances of playing a position when you don’t have time to let them grow. For instance, that kid in Houston (shortstop Jeremy Peña) wasn’t the superstar he ended up being, not in the beginning. They weren’t sure he was going to be able to do it. But they had no choice. So he got a chance to get that experience.”
Peña famously was tasked to fill the shoes of another All-Star shortstop who departed for greener pastures, Carlos Correa. He had no plate discipline and made several fielding errors to begin 2022. However, we all know the rest of the story. Peña was able to put it all together, winning a Gold Glove, finishing fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year race, and eventually earning World Series MVP MVP honors.
It indicates nothing with Vaughn Grissom other than prospects often need time to adjust. Rarely do guys come up and enjoy the kind of success Grissom had in 2022. Now, he’ll be able to hone his craft with the Stripers.
“I feel real good about Griss,” Washington said, via the Athletic. “All it is, is gaining experience. He was trying to learn how to play shortstop in the big leagues. He wasn’t learning how to play shortstop in the minor leagues. And learning how to play shortstop in the big leagues is night and day from playing shortstop in the minor leagues. There’s so much that goes on out there when you’re in the middle of that field that you have to be involved in. So he had a lot on his plate. But he’s gained a lot, too. You may not see it right now, but he’s gained a lot from spring training to now. And now he’s gonna get a chance to apply it.”
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