The Atlanta Braves have been making some significant bold moves ever since the firing of Frank Wren as general manager, but the most talked about move is the deal which sent Shelby Miller to Arizona in exchange for a package featuring #1 overall draft choice Dansby Swanson. Some of that talk is because Swanson was picked at the top of the draft and some is because he is local to Atlanta. But is Dansby actually a significant fantasy prospect considering how weak the 2015 draft was considered to be at the top?
Swanson had an interesting college career as he didn't really play as a freshman at Vanderbilt- one of the best programs in college baseball. He earned the starting job as a sophomore and hit well at .333/.411/.475, but that's a low slugging percentage in the college game and he only hit three homers. He didn't really show much power until 2015 as a junior when he hit .335/.423/.623 with 15 homers in 71 games. He actually saw his isolated power more than double between 2014 and 2015, going from .142 to .288. He also runs well and added 38 steals over his final two years with the Commodores.
Swanson didn't show much in his pro debut due to a long run in the College World Series and getting hit in the face with a ball, so he only got in 22 games in the short season Northwest League. There he managed to hit .289/.390/.482, but that league's competition is probably a level below playing in the SEC in college. So if you aren't in a league that just picks newly debuting players, he may actually come a little cheaper due to not showing a lot after signing.
Unlike fellow top draftees Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers, Swanson isn't an elite hitter. However he is still a very promising bat with all-around potential. He isn't the natural hitter that Bregman is, nor does he have the power upside of Rodgers thanks to his 6'0', 170 pound frame. Still Swanson is a mature hitter who should hit for average, and get on base at a good rate thanks to his ability to draw a walk. That should have him hitting at the top of a lineup, where he will get plenty of chances to score runs. He may not have 30 homer pop, but 15-20 in a season isn't unreasonable. He should also be a good bet to steal 20 bases a year.
One important thing to keep in mind with Swanson is that he is a shortstop long term. Unlike Bregman and Rodgers, there isn't talk about him having to move to second or third base. That's important because Swanson is going to eventually fill your shortstop position without much question, unless fellow Braves prospect Ozzie Albies pushes him to another spot.
Another important factor with Swanson is that he's a fairly polished prospect. Playing in the SEC could potentially have him playing in AA or higher this year as he has high level experience and has had some of his best games in big situations against top competition. That means there is a possibility for him to debut in the big leagues this year, though he's more likely to show up in Atlanta in 2017.
Swanson is a fairly safe draftee with his ability and experience. He's not going to stand out in any category, but he could be an all-around fantasy star as a shortstop that hits for average and could have a run of 20/20 seasons. Think along the lines of pre-2015 Ian Desmond offensively with a little less pop, but a better hitter for average. Swanson is worth targeting in any leagues with minor league roster spots due to his position, ability, and proximity to the big leagues. In those leagues where just newly debuting minor league players are eligible for the draft, Swanson belongs in the Top 3 draftees with Rodgers and Bregman.