By Mark Bowman and Pat James
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- Dansby Swanson received his much-anticipated call to the Majors, starting at shortstop and hitting eighth for the Braves in Wednesday's 10-3 loss to the Twins. He went 2-for-4 with two singles in his debut.
By trading shortstop Erick Aybar to the Tigers on Tuesday, the Braves created the roster spot necessary for Swanson to begin his Major League career. The 22-year-old suburban Atlanta native ranks as baseball's No. 5 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
"There's a lot we like about Dansby," said John Hart, Atlanta's president of baseball operations. "We don't expect him to come up here and be the savior, but we feel like this is an opportunity for us to take a good look and get him some experience up here in the big leagues."
Swanson was taken by the D-backs with the first overall selection in the 2015 MLB Draft and was traded to the Braves in the blockbuster deal that sent right-hander Shelby Miller to Arizona in December. The sure-handed shortstop has hit .261 with a .745 OPS over 84 games for Double-A Mississippi after beginning the year with Class A Advanced Carolina.
"He's not setting the world on fire, but I think pretty much everybody remembers what we saw in Spring Training," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We're not asking this kid to come in and carry us to the Promised Land. We're asking him to come in and be a part of this team. He's a good player. I think we all saw that in the spring, and it's time to get a look at him."
Swanson and Alex Bregman, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft who is currently with the Astros, are the fastest No. 1 and 2 picks to reach the Majors since Alex Rodriguez and Darren Dreifort, who were taken in the 1993 MLB Draft.
When the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons to the Angels during the offseason, they viewed Aybar as a player who could bridge the gap at shortstop until Swanson was ready. And although Swanson hasn't dominated at the plate in Double-A, Hart and general manager John Coppolella saw Tuesday's trade as a chance for Swanson to gain valuable on-the-job training in the big leagues.
"This is a very smart kid, and he's a good player," Hart said. "And however he performs up here, I think it's going to do nothing but be beneficial for him and for us as we go to make a decision as to what we do with the shortstop position next year."
For now, Swanson won't be playing alongside Double-A second baseman Ozzie Albies, who is baseball's No. 16 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. Both players are shortstops by trade, but it appears Albies will likely slide over to second base in the Majors.
The Braves united Albies with Swanson in Double-A on June 30. Since then, the 19-year-old has slashed .315/.386/.429.
"He's obviously a lot younger than Swanson, and we'll kind of go day by day with him and see where it goes," said Coppolella about Albies. "He's got a bright future, and it won't be long until he's up here soon. There will be a lot of good, young players following them, as well."
While his road to the Majors might be longer than some of the other talented prospects in the Braves' system, catcher Kade Scivicque, who the team acquired from the Tigers in addition to infielder Mike Aviles, could be a valuable addition.
Atlanta currently lacks catching talent in the Minors, and club brass has stated over the past couple of weeks that the position was the biggest area of need.
Scivicque, who was ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Tigers' No. 20 prospect, could provide the upper-level talent the club has sought after. The former fourth-round pick is hitting .282 with six homers and 41 RBIs for Class A Advanced Lakeland in the Florida State League.
"We did a lot of work on him," Coppolella said. "He's a great makeup guy, and he can really lead a staff, so we're very fortunate to have him as a part of the deal. We wouldn't have made the trade if he wasn't in it."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.
Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.