Vaughn Grissom was expected to be the starting shortstop for the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day, but Orlando Arcia took the job during Spring Training and ran with it, earning All-Star honors as the starting shortstop in the National League.
Arcia hasn’t slowed down since the break, either. In fact, he’s been even better, hitting .321 with six homers in his last 21 games — good for a 1.009 OPS. He might just be the best bargain in baseball. Right as the season began, the Braves inked an extension with Arcia, which will pay him $2 million over the next three seasons. Unless something changes, he’s going to be the starting shortstop for the Braves, which leaves the team in an interesting predicament when it comes to Vaughn Grissom.
From what we saw this season in Arcia’s absence, Vaughn Grissom isn’t close to being ready to play shortstop defensively, but his bat is a different story. In Gwinnett, the 22-year-old is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .323 with five homers, four triples and 30 doubles — good for an .889 OPS. He also has an on-base percentage over .400 and has just 56 strikeouts in 85 games compared to 45 walks. This is a young man performing better at a higher level than just about everyone his age. Grissom is major-league ready right now, but the Braves don’t really have a place to put him.
Atlanta’s infield is locked up for the foreseeable future and is by far the best in baseball. Nobody has done anything to lose their job. Hell, they all just made the All-Star game. The outfield is also mostly locked up with Michael Harris II and Ronald Acuña Jr. The only place Grissom could possibly play is left field, which has been undoubtedly the most underwhelming position group for the Braves this season. It’s also possible he could serve as the designated hitter at times, but I highly doubt the organization is eager to relegate an athletic 22-year-old to a DH role.
At some point, the Braves are going to have to find a place for Vaughn Grissom in the lineup, and it could be as early as this season. When the rosters expand, I expect the Braves to add Grissom. He’s too good to be wasting time in Gwinnett and deserves another taste of September baseball. If that happens, I’ll be interested to see if and how the Braves choose to use him. Guys that hit well over .300 don’t grow on trees, and Alex Anthopoulos didn’t deal him at the trade deadline for a reason. The club sees the value in Grissom, and perhaps he can make an impact on this team much sooner than we expect.
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