And the Number One prospect in the Braves organization is…Dansby Swanson!
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Dansby Swanson, SS
2016 Level: MLB Atlanta
9 HR, 13 SB
(A+ and AA levels combined)
Dansby Swanson was the 1st overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt University by the Arizona Diamondbacks. As a college player, Swanson won the College World Series in 2014 with his Commodore teammates and was the series MVP. The following season, he won the Golden Spikes Award as the top college baseball player. Swanson signed with Arizona for a $6.5 million signing bonus, but shortly afterwards was hit in the face with a pitch from teammate Yoan Lopez in an instructional game. Swanson finally made his pro debut in late August, and helped the class-A Hillsboro Hops to a league championship.
Swanson became the first player drafted #1 overall to be traded in the following offseason when the Diamondbacks shipped him to Atlanta as part of a package for right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller. After a strong spring training, which saw him and fellow shortstop prospect Ozzie Albies alternate playing shortstop and second base, Swanson was assigned to the class-A+ Carolina Mudcats. Swanson spent the month of April abusing pitchers to the tune of .333/.441/.526 and started a trend for his season when he hit an inside-the-park home run as his first pro four-bagger. A promotion to AA Mississippi followed and he hit .276/.359/.448 in May. The dog days settled in however, and he grinded a .253/.333/.378 line from June 1 through August 14, hitting 8 homers including another of the inside-the-park variety.
Perhaps despite his AA offensive performance and likely eager for some good publicity in the middle of an awful season, Atlanta promoted Swanson to the big leagues on August 17. Despite being admittedly tired from the longest season of baseball in his life, Swanson rose to the challenge and went .302/.361/.442 with 3 home runs (including yet another inside-the-park for his first major league HR) in 37 games with Atlanta, coming in two at-bats shy of losing his rookie eligibility for 2017. After the season, Swanson was named the #1 prospect of the Southern League by Baseball America.
Swanson is 6’-1”, 190 pounds and comes with tools that rate average-to-plus across the board. His batting eye and strike zone judgement are good, and he uses exceptional bat control and a short stride to make contact with anything near the strike zone. That stride however limits his power potential at this time, so he’s not much of an over-the-fence threat despite good raw power. Instead, he’ll hit line drives to all fields. This plays into his above average speed, and he’s a threat to lead the majors in doubles. That speed also plays well as a baserunner, and he knows when to pick his spots for stolen base opportunities. Defensively, Swanson should be an above average defender at shortstop due to good hands, excellent footwork, and an above average arm. In short, there is no one thing that he does exceptionally better than anyone else, but he does just about everything very well. That includes more intangible virtues like leadership ability.
Swanson will start the 2017 season with the Atlanta Braves as the starting shortstop, and could be a cornerstone player for some time likely eventually settling in as a top-of-the-order hitter. He will enter the year as a likely consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball and an early contender for Rookie of the Year.