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.
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.
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