Despite a strong, yet brief 2022 campaign, Braves infielder Vaughn Grissom was demoted to the Minors to begin this season. But after a strong start at the plate and an injury to Orlando Arcia, the young Braves 2B/SS is back with Atlanta. And, he’s worth stashing in fantasy — especially if you just lost a shortstop in recent days.
A Look at Grissom
When Ozzie Albies sustained a broken left foot last summer, Braves fans got a up-close look at young infielder Vaughn Grissom. A shortstop by trade, Grissom shifted to second to replace Albies and did quite well as a stand-in. The 22-year-old batted close to .300 over 41 games, with five home runs and eleven extra base hits. That performance set Grissom up well for the future, as he seemed likely to replace now-Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson after the longtime Braves shortstop departed in free agency.
Stunningly, though, Grissom was demoted to Gwinnett (AAA) to begin the 2023 season. Even though Grissom hit well in Grapefruit League action, Braves infielder Orlando Arcia beat out both Grissom and Braden Shewmake out for the starting job at short for Atlanta. Since his demotion, Grissom has been one of the better hitters down in AAA. With Gwinnett, Grissom hit .366/.458/.585 with a home run, four runs batted in, and five extra base hits. The 22-year-old also tallied two steals down in the Minors.
A middle infielder that can hit for both contact and power, Grissom does have the potential down the road to be a 15-20 home run hitter that could tally double digits in steals. However, questions about his fielding do linger. While Grissom does possess good foot speed, range and arm strength may hold Grissom back from being a full-time shortstop. In a small sample size in 2022, Grissom’s arm strength ranked in the 10th percentile in Major League Baseball, well below league average.
With Arcia — who hit .341 over 41 at-bats to begin 2023 — out with a microfracture in his left wrist, Grissom has been summoned from the Minors to replace him. And, it looks like he’ll get a good chance to get regular at-bats while Arcia is on the shelf.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
When we took a deeper look into Grissom’s numbers from last year this past February, we mentioned that the young Braves infielder was one of the more productive second baseman in the Majors late last season. The 22-year-old owned a .291 batting average and a 120 OPS+ over 156 plate appearances, numbers that seemingly made him the early favorite to replace Swanson. That, however, did not happen.
Grissom’s ability to put bat on ball and drive it is far from the issue that kept him off the Braves Opening Day roster. It’s somewhat strange to say that, but nonetheless, Grissom gets his chance to prove he can stick in the Majors at short.
While there are legitimate concerns as to whether the pressure of playing shortstop for Atlanta could affect his ability at the plate, Grissom is worth the stash in fantasy leagues. With notable shortstops like Tim Anderson, Oneil Cruz, and Corey Seager all on the shelf, a bat like Grissom could be a cure for those who lost one of those names. However, keep in mind that Grissom won’t be eligible to play at short in leagues until he accumulates the required numbers of games in leagues. The 22-year-old played just two games (one game started) at short with Atlanta in 2022.