Pair of moves clear way for Arcia's nod at SS
Shewmake, Grissom optioned to Triple-A following Monday's game
NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Just when it looked like Braden Shewmake and Vaughn Grissom were competing to replace Dansby Swanson as Atlanta’s starting shortstop, both were sent to the Braves’ Minor League camp.
The surprising development occurred Monday evening when the Braves announced Shewmake and Grissom were among the players optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Barring an acquisition, Orlando Arcia will be Atlanta’s shortstop when the regular season begins March 30 against Washington at Nationals Park.
Joining Shewmake and Grissom on the list of players optioned to Gwinnett on Monday were right-handed reliever Nick Anderson, outfielder Jordan Luplow and outfielder Eli White.
Anderson could be a key bullpen piece at some point this year, but with two options remaining, the veteran will have time to further distance himself from a couple of injury-plagued seasons.
Luplow and White have options remaining, but Sam Hilliard doesn’t. So, it still looks like the Braves could open the season with Hilliard and non-roster invitee Kevin Pillar as their backup outfielders.
The day’s biggest news involved the moves at shortstop.
Once Swanson signed with the Cubs in December, there was intrigue surrounding who might be his replacement. Arcia was the only internal candidate with extended big league experience, but some thought he would be best utilized off the bench. So, there was conjecture that Grissom could end up with the job, especially after spending three weeks this offseason working out with Braves third-base coach Ron Washington, who is viewed as one of the game’s top infield instructors.
But there has always been concern about Grissom’s range and ability to be an everyday shortstop at the big league level, especially now that defensive shifts are illegal. As those concerns remained over the past couple of weeks, the focus turned to Shewmake, whom the Major League coaching staff has viewed as this year’s most-improved player.
But while Shewmake was clearly superior to Grissom defensively, there were understandable concerns about his offensive potential. The 25-year-old infielder produced a .672 OPS in 83 games for Double-A Mississippi in 2021 and a .715 OPS in 76 games for Gwinnett last season.
Grissom made the rise from High-A Rome to the Majors last year, and he became a fan favorite while hitting .347 with five homers and a .956 OPS through his first 26 games for Atlanta. But he produced a .460 OPS over his final 15 games (53 plate appearances) and was replaced by Arcia at second base during the final week of the regular season.
Arcia was the Brewers’ starting shortstop from 2017-20. He’ll be given a chance to keep Atlanta’s starting job. But there is always a chance he could end up being a stopgap while Shewmake and Grissom extend their development in the Minors.
The Braves also reassigned left-hander Danny Young, catchers Ryan Casteel and Joe Hudson and infielder Yolmer Sánchez to Minor League camp. They now have 32 players in camp.