Part of Braves’ future (Swanson) arrives — everybody please breathe

Braves top prospect infielder Dansby Swanson fields a grounder during spring training at Braves' camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Braves top prospect infielder Dansby Swanson fields a grounder during spring training at Braves’ camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Dansby Swanson has played 127 games with three teams in the minor leagues at the A-, A+ and Double-A levels, which should not be confused with the Braves, who are in the major leagues, albeit somewhere around the D-minus level, give or take an Erick Aybar.

I put this out there because there’s a part of me that already feels sorry for Swanson.

He was the first pick in the draft last year out of Vanderbilt. He’s about to play his first game for a team that is on pace to lose 102 games. When “top prospect” and “bad team” intersect in professional sports, it often leads to starving, desperate and pleading fans who look at scouting reports like lottery tickets and think, “Jackpot! We’re going to be rich!”

Please, everybody: Breathe.

Just breathe.

Swanson, acquired from Arizona on the Shelby Miller trade, will be called up from Double-A Mississippi and make his Braves’ debut Wednesday night against Minnesota. He’ll start at shortstop. I guess the Braves figure there’s no reason to low-profile this thing. They made the announcement of his promotion concurrent with their trade of Aybar, who was a dreadful mistake. (The winter and spring talking points about the Braves believing Aybar would be an adequate replacement for Andrelton Simmons somehow never made it in the press release.)

The Braves need any positive sign for the future. Their hope is that over the final seven weeks of this otherwise miserable season, Swanson looks like a relative rainbow that links the third week of August in 2016 with the bright and glorious future starting in 2017 season. Just be cautious.

The expectations for this 22-year-old are already enormous, and the Braves have unfortunately been complicit in creating this situation by talking up this kid from Day 1 and playing this season with a cast of mostly not-ready-now-or-possible-ever  players (and that’s meant as a shot at the front office, not the players).

Most will view it as a positive that the Braves are bringing up Swanson now, allowing him to get some experience before coming back next season. The hope here is just that if he somehow looks lost or out of place, everybody doesn’t suddenly assume the worst.

Swanson shouldn’t be viewed as a savior. He’s a potential piece for the future. He has never played a game in the majors or even in Triple A and he was hitting .261 for Double-A Mississippi with eight homers and 45 RBIs in 84 games.

He is a prospect — prospect, which Merriam-Webster defines as, “a likely candidate for a job or position.”

Prospects are like the first day of a season: They’re full of potential and mystery and excitement and limitless potential.

Sometimes seasons go bad.

Sometimes prospects go bad.

There’s also that saying about the “best laid plans,” and I can’t remember how the rest of it goes but I think it references Hector Olivera.

Maybe this works out. For Swanson’s sake and the Braves’ future, that would be a good thing. But perspective is important in these matters, and understand that just as the Braves attempted to assure the masses in spring training that they would be a competitive team in 2016, nothing is guaranteed.

Hopefully they’ll be more accurate on this projection than they have been about so much else.

EARLIER: Can Falcons’ pass rush finally put Bryan Cox in a good mood?

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16 comments
Falcons63
Falcons63

Please... not another Olivera reference.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Not much to say about Swanson tonight. He didn't embarrass himself with 2 hits.That doesn't make him a success but it is possibly a meaningful start. Let's see how he does against the Nationals pitching. He doesn't have to have base hits against the Nationals, good contact will do for now.

Brando21
Brando21

There is nothing more hilarious than the way you wax intellectual about baseball. It's like listening to a child talk about politics. Less cute, though. Thanks for the entertainment, as always. I am truly grateful for those who are willing to humiliate themselves, repeatedly. 

AceptableName
AceptableName

Appreciate the insight, Jeff.

But you might want to check a reliable scouting source. He's a 9B prospect. Maybe I'd call him an 8A (lower ceiling, higher chance of achieving), but the fact is that Swanson is a mature player with above-average (not plus/plus-plus) average, power, and fielding (including arm).

He's not going to be ARod. He's not going to be a 30-40HR or 30/30 guy. But if he puts up numbers like Derek Jeter and leads the team to winning records, will anyone care?

ErnestB
ErnestB

I think they are moving him up to quick.  Time will tell.  This does provide ample time to determine if he is the future SS for the Braves.

falconfever
falconfever

Good Move    Let him work with the big boys/ can't see any problem with this

Sam Roberts
Sam Roberts

I assumed they brought him up for Wednesday so there would be more than the (what looked like last night) 5 thousand fans at the game.  I may watch the entire game tonight instead of switching between HGTV, Olympics and Braves.

Archangel
Archangel

Referencing Hector Olivera every time the Braves lift a finger to do something is also overreacting Jeff. Why don't we do what you suggested: Keep perspective.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Archangel Let him rant on Olivera. It keeps him from his crusade against Saban.

jmccoy1252
jmccoy1252

I really don't think selling tickets has anything to do with this move.  The Braves need to see what he can do at the Major League Level.  Like it or not, he is probably our Opening day SS next year.  I would rather seem him get some playing time now rather than wait until opening day next year.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@jmccoy1252 If you watched the game and post game show last night and took a drink after every time someone said "Dansby Swanson", you would have died of of alcohol poisoning 3 minutes into the post game show if you somehow survived the game broadcast.  Three of the "Latest News" stories on atlantabraves.com are about Swanson.  That's pure hype for a franchise that has left itself nothing else to hype:

Andruw Jones Bobblehead Night

Chipper Jones "2000 All Star Game" Bobblehead

Chipper Jones Jersey Shirts

Hank Aaron Jersey Shirts

Bobby Cox "Carried Off" Bobblehead


Starting to notice a trend here?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DrTruth @jmccoy1252

Pure hype is right--by our stomach-churning, fawning, toady announcers.

But don't tell the always-in-denial Braves worshippers; they'll pout and insult you.

DrTruth
DrTruth

This starts to smell like a shameless money grab with Swanson's bright future now at risk.  As soon as it was announced during the game tonight, it was immediately followed by comments like, "Fans, better get your tickets for tomorrow night's game!" and "I bet they're already making jerseys with his name on them for tomorrow night."


Face it....The Braves need to sell some tickets and merchandise and do something to bring people to TF for the next few weeks, as well as sell more season tix to STP.  Avg attendence at TF this season is only 23,039/game....The lowest since they've been playing at TF and worse than last year's 24,709 avg.


Hope the kid does well, but obviously he's being rushed.  Swanson hasn't been burning it up at AA lately, but now he's good enough to skip AAA?  Neither Chip nor Joe said a single thing about him skipping over Gwinnett.  Guess we'll find out soon enough....

Archangel
Archangel

@DrTruth Skipping Gwinnett happens pretty frequently so there's no need to make such a big deal about it. That's why Skip and Joe never mentioned it, it's not a death sentence.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Archangel  It's simply amazing that you fail to see this move for what it is....rushing a kid to the majors.  Name the last 5 kids who skipped Gwinnett during this rebuild.  Now name the last 5 kids who skipped Gwinnett in a meaningless season.  Yeah, that's what I thought.

Aybar was batting ,242 and had a .607 OPS (next to last in MLB) and he was dumped.  In his last 21 games at MS, Swanson's batting .229 and his OPS is .629 at AA.  There is downside risk to this move whether you recognize it or not.  And if everything's so positive, Chip & Joe should've said Swanson's so good he doesn't even need to stop at AAA.  Obviously they were told to not mention Gwinnett at all.