Dansby Swanson is demoted to Gwinnett, and it needed to happen

The Flow is going to Triple-A. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

This needed to happen. Dansby Swanson had gone from the Face of the Franchise to the Atlanta Braves’ sixth infielder, an arc that benefited neither team nor player. At least until Johan Camargo cools or Brandon Phillips gets traded or the need to fit Sean Rodriguez/Matt Adams in the starting lineup abates, Swanson needs to be somewhere he can play every day. That place is Gwinnett.

Last August/September, Swanson seemed as good as advertised, which meant no worse than very good. He hit .302 with an OPS of .832 in 32 big-league games. He’d made the majors barely 13 months after being drafted No. 1 overall, and there seemed no way he’d ever leave. Baseball is funny, though. A major talent has spent this season looking, if not quite overmatched, then at least out of sorts.

We’ll never know if that was because the Braves (a.) rushed him or (b.) hyped him to the heavens. We’ll never know if this would have happened in Year 2 if he’d been a modest prospect with less distinctive hair. But it has happened, and the Braves, finally, have acknowledged the obvious.

Swanson got two hits in Arizona on Wednesday, the Diamondbacks having been the organization that drafted and then dealt him. That was about the only good thing that had happened to Swanson in … what, two months? When you have a young player who’s not playing well, you face a difficult choice: How will he sort himself out if you don’t trust him enough to play him?

To be fair, a series of strange things had happened. Freddie Freeman’s wrist was broken, leading to the acquisition of Matt Adams, who spent a month making like Babe Ruth. (Slight exaggeration.) Camargo, never considered more than a fifth infielder, arrived and made like Carlos Correa. (Another.) Rodriguez, who was believed to be out for the season, made it back in July.

The infield became such a crowded place that even Freeman, the cornerstone, moved to the other corner. There was no longer a place for Swanson, the guy who figured to have a place in Atlanta for the next decade.

And that still could happen. Sometimes big names get sent down. The Braves might have been better off doing this last week, when Brian Snitker made it clear Swanson was no longer his everyday — or even every-other-day — shortstop, but they like Swanson and very much want him to succeed. There can, alas, be no success without playing time.

What happens now depends, duh, on Swanson. He can take his demotion and make the most of it, and if that happens he’ll be back soon enough. Phillips could be traded. So could Adams. Camargo, whose career minor-league average was .279, isn’t apt to hit .300 much longer. But the bigger issue is Swanson’s reaction: Will he be miffed, or will he see this as a time to clear his head and play his game?

The guess is he’ll do the latter. For someone anointed the Face of the Franchise, Swanson has seemed unimpressed with himself. Here’s his chance to do the work and come back and, once again, impress us all.

Further reading: If Dansby Swanson isn’t going to play here, he shouldn’t be here.

Reader Comments 0

35 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

It should have happened sooner but it is what it is. Now the Braves need to trade Phillips so When Dansby comes back he won't have the pressure of trying to be a fancy Dan like Phillips.

BaseballBuff
BaseballBuff

I agree. My feeling is that he was rushed to the majors. This having been said, he has not yet proven that he is truly a big-league talent. Learning how to hit a slider would be a step forward for him.


JeffCriswell
JeffCriswell

Swanson is a leader who will settle at SS on someone's roster, if the Braves give up on him. Camargo looks good so far; Swanson looked good last year, as well. Braves would do well to support Swanson through this tough learning curve. 

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

The ultimate key will be for Swanson to go to AAA and quickly show he is above the pitching talent there.  Maybe 10-15 games (40-50AB) with an average over .350 with 5 homers or so could actually be a momentum boost for him.


However, the Braves must not allow him to stay so long in AAA that any success he has there appears to be overlooked.  Otherwise, he will really begin to doubt himself and his future with the Braves.


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Unless he face-plants or someone gets injured he'll be back in September, which isn't that far off.

Bigger issue is the young pitching, because the Braves are going nowhere until it blossoms at the MLB level.

Starksy
Starksy

Really didn't help that the Braves P.R. machine (the two guys in the broadcast booth) continued to harp on hitting into bad luck or getting giddy over bloop singles.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Starksy They are Homers and never will call it,  like it really is!

AardvarkBase3
AardvarkBase3

Is that really Rashede below?  Pot, kettle?

TomGaff
TomGaff

@EddieHall CAMARGO is a fine player and should be around a long time! Edie. you know nothing about baseball, crawl back into the dark cave, from where you came!

Bogey
Bogey

Got to be a joke, right???? Then again, not overly funny.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@RashedeHageman  Absolutely -- and this FO is selling us on a system that is not there.  This system is not as stacked as they are trying to sell -- its the vets that have made this product watchable. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Decade? Perhaps. Danger is leadership thinking the team has progressed more than it really has, trading away real prospects in a push to get into the playoffs sooner. I absolutely detest the tanking strategy but having jumped off the cliff they must not abandon the strategy. This bunch isn't going to win anything.

TomGaff
TomGaff

Do you really want to trade a guy who in 55 games is leading your team in RBI's 41, 16 HRS, .284 BA with 3 errors on D? Yes, I'm speaking of Matt (Big City) Adams! Big boppers do not come along than often? Freddie and Matt need to be in the line-up together daily! What would you get in return, another prospect? Matt also has a very friendly contract! Would be a big MISTAKE if you ask me? Freddie is doing fine at 3B, no errors, I think? 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TomGaff Only Trade Adams if you can get a Corner OF or 3B with a power bat, could be a  prospect or a young player already in the bigs, but either way a player ready to step in and start now.Would have hoped the Braves could have gotten OF  Dustin Fowler from the Yankees ,too bad he was injured in his first MLB game.He posted 13 HR 43 RBI .293 BA .871 OPS in AAA,also OF prospect Jake Cave who has put up 15 HR 44 RBI  .322 BA and .966 OPS splitting time in AA and AAA this year. But I agree most likely best option for now and 2018 to keep Adams at 1B and Freeman at 3B until a better option is available. I just do not see any veterans on the Braves roster other than Adams or maybe Suzuki as a backup catcher having any value to any contenders down the stretch.

DCOLELUVSDAWGS
DCOLELUVSDAWGS

He'll be better off going down for a several weeks, It should help taken some pressure off. The kid has all the goods to become a great player.

UGADawg16
UGADawg16

I love the guy and am really pulling for him. But I don't think the Braves rushed him. He can do everything they need him to do except hit a major league slider. You don't find that out until he is in the majors. Problem is, he won't see the same quality of pitching, but he will at least continue to see sliders until he proves he can hit them.

Baseball is all about adjustments. The game will adjust to you and then you must adjust to the game. Biggest difference between AAA guys and major league guys - how quick can they adjust if they can at all.

Here's to hoping the kid finds a little mojo and learns how to hit a slider...and to adjust to what comes after he can hit the slider.

Bogey
Bogey

You nailed it....sliders.

UGA76
UGA76

@UGADawg16 Best analysis on baseball from the AJC in a long time.  He has to get 4-5 ABs a day and learn how to hit a slider.  

Mattster08
Mattster08

Seems like every time the Braves have a good hometown prospect, they rush him to the majors in order to sell tickets and jerseys.  We saw it with Frenchy, we saw it with Heyward, and we are now seeing it with Swanson.  Glad they at least realized their mistake this time and sent him down.  Hopefully one day they will learn NOT to rush top prospects.

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

@Mattster08 You can add McCann. Oh, wait. You can't. The difference between AAA, AAAA (too good for AAA but not good enough for the majors), and the majors are difficult to judge. It also isn't obvious who will have a major league career after just a few months. 


Swanson comes across as someone who will take advantage of his opportunities, and that includes going to the minors, out of the spot light, and working. His future is up to him, and he knows that.


What is really disappointing is that people can't seem to appreciate that building a winning team isn't easy, and it is fun to watch the Braves try. The Astros went through years of losing and there aren't guarantees. Enjoy the ride.

Chilidawg
Chilidawg

Not sure how many sliders he'll see in Gwinnett. In this age of video and special aids, it is surprising that there is not video of major league pitchers throwing various pitches at full speed. it would seem to help batters pickup pitches more easily.

UWreckMeBaby
UWreckMeBaby

Last Aug/Sept Dansby didn't look like he was rushed to majors ahead of time! Maybe it's just the sophmore jinx, and he'll return to form soon enough. Or, he was over-achieving then, and he'll never hit .300 again.Rodriguez needs more time at Gwinnett also, but I guess they can't stomach paying his salary to a minor leaguer.

 Camargo is just too good to ignore right now, he has to play!!

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@UWreckMeBaby Likely Swanson only batted against teams for one possibly two series last year. Advance scouts for MLB teams studied Swanson and found the holes in his swing , slider low and away . Swanson also has shown less plate discipline as he struggled at the plate this year. With some hard work at AAA and this offseason there is still a good possibility than Swanson will correct his swing and live up to the promise of a overall #1 draft pick.

nightpanther1969
nightpanther1969

I'm still pulling for this kid, because I felt that the Braves had rushed him up way too soon, & should've given the kid more time to get some seasoning in Triple-A. He is still very much a rookie, & the Braves should have handled this situation better than they did. That put too much pressure on the kid, so early into his career by rushing him up.

nightpanther1969
nightpanther1969

I'm pulling for the kid as well; this is what he had needed to get himself back together. The Braves had obviously rushed this kid up too soon.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

The front office rushed Swanson to the majors hoping to gin up some excitement for their move to a new ballpark. Too much was expected of a rookie given the face of the franchise tag in spring training. The Braves team in 2018 was not good enough to carry a rookie SS batting .200 and fielding around .960.Camargo came up and won the starting job. Best of luck for Swanson at Gwinnett , hope he makes it back  to the Braves in 2018.

Atl Sports fan1
Atl Sports fan1

It is the right move.  He needs to play everyday and can work with Albies the next month.  They can both be Sept call ups after Gwinnett season is over.

mgunter
mgunter

Well said MichaelDavis!

MichaelDavis1951
MichaelDavis1951

Right on Mark.  He needs to play every day.  That is the only way he becomes what we all hope he will be.  His defense has been awful, in addition to his lack of hitting.  I believe both is between the ears right now.  You're right he has to look at this as an opportunity to get things straightened out.  We are all pulling for him.