Braves Spring Training Updates: Vaughn Grissom and Michael Soroka

Atlanta Braves Promote Top Prospect, Shortstop Vaughn Grissom

In the early days of Spring Training, not seeing what one would consider to be an offensive regular in action for 3 straight spring training games would be no big deal. Now that the Braves are less than 2 weeks away from real games and Vaughn Grissom is out of the lineup for the 3rd straight game AND is not listed as one of the reserves definitely has me feeling a little uneasy. It makes me feel even more uneasy when Braden Shewmake is once again in the lineup with what looks like the A squad. There are a few things that could be going on:

  1. Vaughn has tweaked something and just needs a few days.
  2. Vaughn is getting extra work in behind the scenes to correct some sort of flaw.
  3. The Braves are considering outside options to start the year at shortstop and could be showcasing Shewmake in a potential trade.

Adding on to the suspense, Peanut drops this nugget:

If Braves feel like Grissom has the higher ceiling, but isn’t ready for the everyday job just yet, they could send him to AAA to get some regular play and promote Braden Shewmake. This seems less than ideal, but as I discussed a few days back, Shewmake’s MiLB experience has been so abnormal that I’m not sure that even the Braves know what they have in him at the moment. Make no mistake, Grissom most likely has the higher ceiling, but Shewmake has the edge in both the glove and organized ball. With both already on the 40-man, no added moves would have to be made. While this feels like fairy tale wishcasting, it would be a wonderful turn of events if Shewmake could become an average starting shortstop and Grissom could be utilized in a way that would magnify his athleticism by becoming a true super-utility for the team.

There’s also a chance that AA is not satisfied at the position and is looking externally to fill the hole. My friend and Braves MILB guru, Andy Harris, has a theory that AA likely has something aligned via trade should Braves need a last minute option at SS. It makes sense to me and Andy has good reads quite often. Whether it’s option 1,2, or 3, it’s definitely the most intriguing story in camp to keep tabs on.

Starting Pitching Updates: Soroka and Wright

Good news for Michael Soroka and for the Braves. If Soroka can get 1-2 starts in before Spring Training concludes, then he could get some added polish at AAA before making his 2023 MLB debut. Gosh…I hope it happens for him.

Kyle Wright will also be getting a start very soon with hopes of getting back in regular season action by the 2nd series of the year. A sore shoulder that needed a cortisone shot has kept him away for these first few weeks, but it’s good to know that he’s about to be ready to go.

Some News About Today’s Braves Game

Jared Shuster, who has really impressed Brian Snitker, might be in line to start the year as the Braves 5th starter (he’d likely start in the 4th game though as Wright will be pushed back) and Nick Anderson, Jackson Stephens, and Michael Tonkin will get some action following Shuster. While I have Tonkin making the MLB roster out the gate, I’ll admit that he hasn’t put up great numbers and if he repeats the same pattern today, we might see him DFA’d sooner than later.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

47 thoughts on “Braves Spring Training Updates: Vaughn Grissom and Michael Soroka”

  1. Ryan- any speculation as to who AA might be targeting via trade? Hard to imagine anybody that would be an upgrade being available right now. What are your thoughts?

  2. The Mets just claimed Dennis Santana who was claimed by the Twins, the put on waivers last week. Gotta wonder what’s wrong with the dude. Also, he’s a perfect fit for the Mets.

  3. I mean, the thing wrong with him is that he’s just a guy. It’s extremely easy to envision a guy like Santana being the 31st or 32nd best player on a lot of rosters. That can help you, but no one will go to their grave mournfully regretting that they let Dennis Santana get away.

  4. After today’s performance, Shuster will have to really crap the bed in his next couple of starts, or get hurt, not to be the 5th starter.

  5. No way they could be considering Shoemake as an everyday player at short…unless they don’t think Grissom or Arcia can adequately play the position defensively. Arcia has probably lost too much range to be a serious candidate.

    Shoemake would be an all glove solution, and maybe, just maybe they could carry that if the other 8 regulars are mashing.

  6. @10
    I didn’t think so either, but Bowman is a beatwriter and could have some inside info. IMO, in regards to Shewmake, I think it would be more likely that he’s being showcased in case Braves have a last minute pivot to grab a SS to allow Grissom time to marinate.

    Along with Amed Rosario, Thairo Estrada, and Jorge Mateo are a few others that AA could target. All 3 would likely be middle of the road guys that could put up 2-3 WAR.

  7. I like the idea of adding Shuster as 5th SP, N. Anderson in the pen, and Hilliard and Pillar on the bench. If Pillar flames out then you have White, Luplow, Wall, etc… as depth with options. I’ve got no problem with DFA for Tonkin. I also think getting some work in at AAA for Soroka will be good. The Braves may have one helluva rotation at Gwinnett. Dodd may end up doing a turn in the bullpen if any one of Leutge, Yates, or N. Anderson has a problem.

    A lot of good problems to have at this point.

    I also think Grissom is fine. Why not believe what Snitker is saying? Shewmake will be great depth especially if he can light up AAA. If AA comes up with a last minute trade, all the better, but I don’t see it as necessary.

    FG still has Braves tied for first in predicted WAR.

  8. The Braves haven’t really used a guy as a super-utility man since Martin Prado. I haven’t seen Snitker ever doing it for the most part.

  9. According to DOB and O’Flaherty, Grissom has looked just fine in the field. They’re sold. I think it’s likely he won the job already and he’s working on things in the back fields.

    As you point out, Ryan, Shewmake has had a weird minor league career. He’s 25. I think he’s playing because they want to take a long look at him. It’s nice to have some infield depth.

  10. If they’re just looking at Shewmake, it would make sense for Grissom to be working on a back field rather than watching a Spring Training game.

  11. #2
    I’ll trust the brass on the SS issue.

    But I’ll say this for Amed Rosario… if he were acquired, it seems like you know what you’d be getting.

    In Cleveland, he’s been remarkably consistent at the plate (aka league average). The results of his last 2 years there were pretty similar (although he did reduce his K rate), and he just had his best defensive year. He put up 4.2 WAR in ’22, but he’s not a guy I’d expect to get dramatically better. He is who he is.

    If he fielded well, hit 8th or so & got some big hits along the way, great. But he’s also one of those guys who Ks 4/5 times more than he walks.

    Anyway, for me, he’s just a good trivia-question answer: Who’s the only Met to hit a walk-off HR in Yankee Stadium?

  12. I know it’s a non-sequitor but the Wash character in Moneyball sure knows how to steal a scene.

  13. You know I used to feel like the World Baseball Classic made spring training harder. I think it is helping Atlanta this year and I’m all for it. Acuna and Rosario have both gotten to play in a more intense environment and our other outfielders have gotten more playing time. I haven’t heard much from Acuna, but Rosario seems to have risen to the occasion. Hopefully he’ll carry his hot streak into the season.

  14. It’s now been reported by both Braves beatwriters and the manager himself: Braves are not sold on Grissom at SS and Shewmake seemingly has a leg up. Both Grissom and Shewmake were in the lineup today, but Shewmake was the SS and Grissom the DH.

  15. @22 Arcia played SS today. I think everyone’s cracked and Grissom will be the OD SS. I think they’re not sold on Ozuna at DH and may rotate Grissom through DH as well as Murphy and D’Arnaud. And let Arcia start at SS every now and then (maybe include Ozzie in that DH rotation too). Pillar has regressed but he may still start on the roster and get dropped at some point. Luplow may begin the year on the IL. I gotta think White is the speed/defense option long term. Hilliard or Luplow will be the bench hitting option unless either Ozuna or Rosario get traded then both are in. I also think Shuster has the inside track to 5th SP although Dodd has been extremely good.

  16. WBC doing their best to promote robot umps. What a fiasco of a strike zone, unsurprisingly

  17. The more I think about the Shoemake thing the more I think it’s a good idea. The Braves will have one of the top offenses in the league even without Grissom. They need a good glove man at shortstop more than a good bat. And Shoemake should be able to provide that and is unlikely to be a complete zero with the bat.

  18. Profar to the Rockies. The fact that no team smarter than the Rockies wanted to sign him makes me wonder if he’s worth signing at all.

  19. Here’s a crazy idea. Trade Ozuna and Arcia to the Marlins for Soler. Give them a bunch of bucks but only enough to keep us below the lux tax. Keep both Grissom and Shewmake on the OD roster. Also, take Shuster and Dodd and put Wright on the 10-day IL to finish his spring as a “rehab assignment” at AAA. Add Pillar. Option Luplow. Keep Hech as SS at AAA. Keep Chavez at AAA as depth. Platoon Soler and Rosario. Maybe even platoon Grissom and Shewmake. Rotate the DH with 2B, SS, C, Soler, so that everyone gets ABs and field reps.

    Soler may not be the best OF but he does NOT have a noodle arm.

  20. Sure would’ve been nice to acquire a palatable solution at shortstop during the offseason.

  21. Guess we’ll just have to get used to Arcia & Shewmake for awhile.

    WBC claims another star… Altuve breaks his thumb, out 8-10 weeks.

  22. @30 — That’s a lot of shuffling for pretty marginal gains. (Never mind that if it was possible to dump Ozuna in a bad contract swap, he’d be gone by now, so I don’t consider that particularly realistic. Ozuna’s a Brave or he gets released, one of those two.) Like, the upside there is that the bench is very slightly better. Which is of course not nothing, but I don’t think you need to stay up nights trying to figure out ways to keep Kevin Pillar and Adeiny Hecheverria in the fold.

    I’m pretty receptive to the idea that Grissom and Shewmake should both be starting somewhere. The Braves need to figure out if either of them is a starting caliber player, because their alternatives are not good. I don’t really trust Snitker to manage a time share (much less a multi-position one) with any sort of even-handedness or efficiency.

    @32 — Too bad he didn’t know it was coming.

  23. A dream scenario would be that Shewmake becomes an average SS and Vaughn goes down to get work on becoming a plug n play player.

  24. Ryan, I’m with you on developing a super sub. That can be a valuable piece of a championship team; one benefit is contributing to more rest for for the regulars. But as long as Snitker is manager I don’t see it happening. I love Snit, but that is not something he’s shown any inclination to implement.

  25. Stephens outrighted. That potentially leaves 4 potential open slots on the 40-man roster. I still predict Shuster, Dodd, and Pillar for three of them. After that it’s anyone’s guess. There seems to be some plan afoot.

  26. MLB is missing a big marketing opportunity by not streaming the WBC free online. I don’t have cable or any sort of cord-cutting cable proxy, so I don’t have any way of watching these games, but if I could pull up a legit stream on YouTube, I’d watch every game.

  27. @35

    I get it that you like the plug n’ play idea, but I think it’s clear by now that the team does not.

    Anyway, I get angrier the more I think about the self-deluding hole we dug ourselves over the offseason by trying to convince everybody, including ourselves, that Grissom was the answer at shortstop. Now we’re gonna be stuck with Orlando Arcia holding down the starting job. I just can’t express how much I hate this incredibly needless own goal.

  28. If finally happened: I used the word “cromulent” on another message board after reading it so much here.

  29. I have to admit that whenever I read something to the effect of “Grissom/Shewmake can be the super utility guy!” my mind flashes back to Johan Carmago. Yeah, as long as “super utility” is defined as “two starts a month + defensive replacement.” Some managers are adept at the whole “no lineup twice in a row” school of roster construction, but I think Snitker has proven that it’s not really his strength. He likes starters and bench players.

    If Grissom can’t field well enough that they don’t feel comfortable starting him at the major league level, let him play as many shortstop innings as possible in Gwinnett and hope he can figure it out with more reps. He’s not going to improve barely playing in Atlanta.

  30. In a world where the DH is universal you can have cake and eat it too. A lineup can remain regular if the super-sub can play 4-5 positions, and there’s no reason why Vaughn couldn’t play 6.

    I know that Snitker likes his regular lineup and he hasn’t utilized a super-utility, but he’s never really had one that came with an above average bat and decent glove. Until we see someone force his hand, the opinions most share will be correct. Vaughn is the type of talent that could very well do that.

  31. Shewmake would probably be the starter if the season opened today. I bet we make a trade though.

  32. I’ve been skeptical of the whole Shewmake thing, but it seems to me that if we were going into a season planning to use a player at a new position, then that player would not be missing this many opportunities to play the position.

  33. It was his first spring game, but Wright ended his outing with FBs sitting at 91-2 MPH. He got pulled mid-batter. He was asked about the last few pitches and said he was tweaking some of his mechanics. I really don’t like the sound of that. He had a fabulous 2022. Why would he tweak his mechanics? There’s only one real reason and it’s not a good one.

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