Dansby Swanson is scheduled to make his Atlanta Braves debut tonight. He was the first player picked in the MLB draft in June 2015 — by the Diamondbacks, who kept him barely five months — and he has been fast-tracked for the majors since being traded here for Shelby Miller. (Who’s in the minor leagues. Imagine the wailing in Phoenix if Swanson goes 4-for-4 against the Twins.)
Although we shouldn’t expect 4-for-4. More like 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs and a stolen base and two runs scored — every single game for the rest of Swanson’s life. Yes, I’m kidding.
Not being a minor-league analyst, I can’t really assess what Swanson has done there. But folks who write for the two leading analytic websites can and have.
From Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs: “He’s a plus runner with terrific instincts on the bases and enough range for SS. His defensive footwork is exceptional … He has an above-average arm and I think he’ll be a plus defender at short despite lacking the explosiveness and acrobatics typically associated with that kind of glove at short.”
From Christopher Crawford of Baseball Prospectus: “He’s able to get to pretty much anything hit to either side. He also charges the ball well, and his above-average arm is accurate with a quick release. Is he Francisco Lindor (of Cleveland)? No. Is he a better defender than Alex Bregman (of Houston) and Brendan Rodgers (of Colorado)? You betcha.”
And Swanson the hitter?
Crawford: “He’s a smart, selective hitter, and while he will never be among the league leaders in walks, he’ll draw his fair share. There’s enough strength and leverage here to project some power, but the swing is conducive to hitting line drives, so expecting more than 45-grade pop is expecting too much.”
Longenhagen: “Offensively, Swanson’s footwork is minimalistic and plain … Swanson’s power comes almost exclusively from his hands and bat speed, which can only do so much on their own. While he has average raw power, Swanson only projects to hit for 45-grade game power unless we see substantial mechanical changes.”
If two opinions can constitute a consensus, these kind of do — excellent if not spectacular defender, good arm, fast runner, line-drive hitter. (As for the 45 grade: MLB scouts have 80 as their maximum in all categories, and almost nobody gets an 80 in anything.)
Longenhagen: “Beware of fatigue … Swanson has played 105 games this season, easily the most of his career. He played 71 at Vanderbilt last year and 22 more at Low-A, but those pro appearances came after a lengthy rest due to a broken face. Since Swanson has passed that 71-game threshold this season, he’s hitting .252.”
Crawford: “There are reasons to be hesitant about saying he’s ready to contribute offensively. There’s been a lot of weak contact since his promotion to the Southern League, and there are still some adjustments being made in terms of pitch recognition … All that being said, this is one of the best prospects in all of baseball, and the ceiling and floor are both extremely high.”