Vaughn Grissom Shines At Alternate Site
The Braves will have plenty to learn during the 2021 minor league season.
They’ll see top prospects such as Drew Waters and Kyle Muller back in regular games. They’ll see 2020 first-rounder Jared Shuster in action. They’ll see if Bryce Ball, Braden Shewmake and others take steps forward.
Some other individuals generated more intrigue by their work at the alternate training site last season and this year.
Braves farm director Ben Sestanovich mentioned two specific prospects who stood out. One, outfielder Michael Harris, was a popular name throughout the spring. The other, 20-year-old shortstop Vaughn Grissom, isn’t so often mentioned.
“A lot (was) written about Michael Harris this spring,” Sestanovich said. “He definitely, as a high school draftee in 2019 without a ton of professional experience, came to the alternate site, and that was really a positive thing for his development. It was good for our staff to spend time with him.
"Vaughn Grissom, another 2019 draft pick, spent a good chunk of the summer at the alternate site. He similarly stood out as far as his maturity and his ability to compete against some of those arms I mentioned who were pitching in the big leagues last season."
Harris is primed to leap up prospect rankings with a strong 2021 campaign. To say the Braves are bullish on him is an understatement. The outfielder has the potential to eventually become their No. 1 prospect because of his athleticism and well-rounded skill set.
Grissom, who opened the 2021 season at Low-A Augusta, isn’t as flashy a name but has upside.
He is an 11th-round pick from Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound shortstop last played in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2019. He hit .288/.361/.400 with three homers, seven doubles and 23 RBIs in 44 games.
Grissom’s defense is a question mark, but his advanced bat could push him up rankings.
— Atlanta's system has remained solid despite a steady exit of high-end talent in recent seasons. Outfielders Michael Harris and Drew Waters, shortstop Braden Shewmake, catchers William Contreras and Shea Langeliers and lefthanders Kyle Muller and Jared Shuster are among the next wave of intriguing youngsters.
“We have some extremely talented and just really skilled players,” Braves lefthander Max Fried said. “You look defensively—with the bat, position player-wise, we have some really dynamic players. Pitching-wise, we have some really big arms in the minors still, even with the guys who’ve already cracked the big leagues. I know we’re pretty deep, and we’ll be able to have guys coming up and making an impact for a while.”
— Contreras is getting a lengthy trial in the majors after catcher Travis d’Arnaud was placed on the 60-day injured list May 1. Contreras is auditioning for a regular spot in 2022. He and Langeliers are considered the organization’s future at backstop. d’Arnaud, who’s been valuable on and off the field since signing with the Braves in 2019, is a free agent following this season.