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Braves' Braden Shewmake Seems Like A Perfect Utility Fit



In November, the Braves protected three players from the Rule 5 draft, the most notable of whom was shortstop Braden Shewmake.

The Texas A&M product was a first-round selection in 2019, billed as someone who would ascend quickly into a major league-caliber utility player. His calling card was defense and speed.

Shewmake's second full minor league season was limited to 76 games for Triple-A Gwinnett before he collided with teammate Travis Demeritte on Aug. 6. He suffered a ligament tear in his left knee that ended his season. He’s expected to be ready for spring training.

Shewmake hit .259/.316/.399 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases. It was a step forward offensively, but he hasn’t shown any sizable growth that would make one reassess his ceiling.

The power the Braves hoped would develop hasn’t yet popped. Shewmake has 22 homers in 849 minor league at-bats.

Shewmake turned 25 in November. He’s a college product with a nearly full season in Triple-A behind him, and it seems utilityman was an appropriate label.

Those who know Shewmake, including people in the organization, have raved about his baseball acumen. Braves manager Brian Snitker, seeing Shewmake in spring training, has cited his instincts and versatility.

Shewmake’s defense and speed, along with simply being an embraceable teammate, could easily lead to a long major league career. Shewmake should debut in Atlanta in 2023.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson is a free agent and it’s questionable whether he returns. That means the Braves could have a hole at shortstop, but Shewmake wouldn’t be a candidate to fill that spot.

Atlanta would likely opt for a veteran, such as in-house option Orlando Arcia, or youngster Vaughn Grissom, who passed Shewmake on his way to the majors.

SMOKE SIGNALS

— The Braves also protected righthander Darius Vines on the 40-man roster. He is an intriguing starting pitcher with a quality slider and changeup that could make him a major league option in the coming season. He finished 2022 in Triple-A, posting a 3.21 ERA in seven games.

— Reliever Roddery Muñoz also was added to the 40-man roster. The Braves clearly see reasons for optimism in Muñoz, who piles up strikeouts with his high-90s fastball and slider. He fanned 119 batters in 100.1 innings last season across High-A and Double-A.

Muñoz had been stalled by injuries, but his 2022 breakout suggests there’s more to come. He has worked as a starter but might end up a reliever in the big leagues.

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Braden Shewmake Adds Strength

The 2019 first-rounder was set to experience his first full pro season in 2020 before the minor league season was canceled.

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