There have been a number of surprising developments for the Braves this Spring, but this one takes the cake. Former first-round pick, Braden Shewmake, who has struggled on the farm over the last two years, has looked like a completely different player in Spring Training, and according to Brian Snitker, he has a real chance of beating out Vaughn Grissom for the job as the starting shortstop.
Snit on the SS battle: "We're going to take one of the two (Shewmake or Grissom) more than likely. We'll see who we leave with in a couple of weeks."
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 18, 2023
Shewmake has had a nice camp, hitting .333 with an .881 OPS over 27 at-bats — a far cry from the line he posted last season in Gwinnett, where he recorded a .259 average with a .715 OPS. The offensive juice he’s shown coming into 2023 is promising. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick for a reason, but the sample size is minuscule. Should the Braves really put this much weight into 27 at-bats?
What makes this situation even more intriguing is Grissom hasn’t done anything to lose the job in Spring Training either, not at the plate at least. Over 31 at-bats, he’s hitting .323 with an OPS of .748. That’s more than palatable, as he continues to prove he’s capable of handling major-league pitching.
The issue for Grissom stems from his defense. Many people questioned whether he would be able to handle the duties at shortstop, which is why a lot of people thought he would eventually change positions once he reached the majors. However, Ron Washington has been adamant about Grissom’s development defensively this offseason, and while he hasn’t looked like a Gold Glover during Spring Training by any means, he hasn’t looked incapable of handling the position either.
I would have never penciled Shewmake into the Opening Day roster coming into the Spring. It wasn’t even on my radar, but for the fifth consecutive day, the Braves have not played Grissom at shortstop. This is an open competition, and they clearly want to get a longer look at what Shewmake brings to the table.
This is the fifth straight day Grissom hasn’t played shortstop pic.twitter.com/5CoKfvmXto
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 19, 2023
The decision will likely come down to what the Braves value more — offense or defense. Grissom is undoubtedly the better talent with the stick in his hands. He’s shown it at every level. On the other hand, Shewmake holds a clear edge defensively, and there’s hope that he’s beginning to turn the corner offensively.
It’s a shocking development, but this shouldn’t be looked at negatively. Having more than one option to potentially fill the shoes of Dansby Swanson is a luxury. I’m excited to see how this shakes out over the next week or so.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
You must log in to post a comment.