Just as Erick Aybar started to show some signs of life at the plate, the Braves dealt him to the Tigers as an injury replacement for Jose Iglesias. The Braves received a catching prospect in Kade Scivicque and utility infielder Mike Aviles in return for Aybar, but the bigger move happened after the trade when the team called up top prospect shortstop Dansby Swanson from AA Mississippi.
Swanson, who rated as the #5 prospect in baseball according to the midseason MLB.com Top 100 prospects, was the top overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He came over to the Braves this winter in the widely criticized Shelby Miller deal after playing limited time following the draft last year due to being hit in the face by a pitch from former teammate Yoan Lopez.
Swanson had been part of a debate among many this winter and spring about who would be the future shortstop for the Braves- him or fellow top prospect Ozzie Albies. He began the year in High A Carolina, and raked in April before being promoted to Mississippi in May, after hitting .333/.441/.526 in 21 games. At that same time Albies promoted from Mississippi to AAA Gwinnett to clear up the shortstop job. Eventually Albies was demoted to Mississippi to get in work with Swanson and moved to second base in the process- helping to finally solve the shortstop debate for good with Swanson getting the job.
Swanson started out hot in AA, but went through a major slump earlier this summer that he has since broken out of. He's been a bit streaky, but that is to be expected considering it is his first real taste of pro ball as well as his first full season as a pro- and he's done it in a challenging assignment for most other college players. In his 84 games in AA he hit .261/.342/.402 with eight homers and six steals. That puts his overall season line between High A and AA to .275/.362/.426 with nine homers and 13 steals in 470 plate appearances.
Swanson isn't Alex Bregman, his former SEC rival and the shortstop drafted after him at #2 overall that now looks like a potential middle of the order bat for Houston. Nor is he Brendan Rodgers, the high school shortstop drafted #3 by the Rockies and also showing middle of the order upside. But Swanson is a very strong player with a solid, well-rounded game and no true weaknesses. He could end up hitting .270-.285 with 10-15 homers and 10-15 steals while playing solid defense at shortstop. While that’s not what Bregman and Rodgers could do, there is no question about Swanson sticking at shortstop longterm. That's very solid from your shortstop, but at the same time not earth shattering, and not what you would expect from the #5 prospect in the game.
Swanson is more likely to be a star player for the Braves than he is for your fantasy team. He’s a potential #2 hitter in a big league lineup, and while he's worthy of a roster spot in a fantasy starting lineup, he may be a bit over-hyped by some- and that's coming from a Braves fan.
He’s coming up to start at shortstop for the Braves, as has been widely reported, and will likely get a long leash as they’re bad and would rather he gets any potential big league struggles worked out this year. If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league he’s definitely worth the addition right now. However if you’re in a re-draft league or a keeper league with limited keepers, he may not be the guy at add right now unless you have a need at shortstop because he does seem to be a guy that could struggle early on due to the fact he’s a year out of college and has only played in 84 games above A ball and does seem to be tiring a bit as the end of his first full professional season gets near.
Swanson is absolutely going to have a good, long career as a shortstop and will be a starting caliber player for your team, but it’s important to keep expectations in mind and not expect him to be an offensive superstar.