For the first time in his professional baseball career, Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson will play a game at the Triple-A level.
The Braves have optioned the struggling Swanson, who is batting just .213 on the year, to Triple-A Gwinnett in an effort to have Swanson regain his confidence at the plate, and in-order for the 23-year-old former number one overall pick to find his stroke again.
Swanson’s demotion to the minors happened about four hours after the Braves’ 10-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Joining him on the road back to Triple-A is Aaron Blair, who gave up five runs in three innings in his first start of the 2017 season. Corresponding moves to replace Swanson and Blair on the active roster will occur on Friday.
Atlanta has been among baseball’s biggest surprises, even with Swanson being among baseball’s biggest disappointments. Swanson was many pundits’ pick to win the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award, but it looks like Cody Bellinger will be the runaway winner for that award, while also being a strong candidate to win MVP.
In 2016, Swanson played really well in his 38 games with the Braves. He batted .302/.361/.442 with 3 homers and 17 RBIs. It looked like things this season were starting to turnaround for Swanson after he batted .306/.355/.418 in June, but he has since declined his performance to his worst month yet in July, batting just .125.
In-addition to his struggles, Swanson lost his everyday starting shortstop job to Johan Camargo, and figures to be in Triple-A until Camargo cools off. Another possible way Swanson can return to the Majors quickly is the Braves moving Brandon Phillips before the non-waiver trade deadline.
A lot of Swanson’s struggles this year can be pinpointed towards his inability to hit the slider. Last season, he batted just .091 against the slider last season, and his average against the pitch has been even worse this year, at .073. It is the second most thrown pitch to Swanson this season, just as it was last season.
Let’s take a look at how Swanson has fared against several different pitches he’s been thrown this year:
It’s clear that the Braves still feel Swanson is a big part of their future, and they just want him to get on track. He was acquired via trade in 2015 from the Arizona Diamondbacks along with Blair, Ender Inciarte, and Gabe Speier in-exchange for Shelby Miller.
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