We’ve already taken a look at two young shortstops in Oneil Cruz and Jeremy Peña and their fantasy prospects for 2023 this winter, so let’s take a crack at another one. Braves infielder Vaughn Grissom appears poised to assume the shortstop role in Atlanta, now that Dansby Swanson is headed to Chicago. Grissom looked impressive in his brief taste of the Majors, but now it’s time to see if the toolsy infielder can maintain strong production at the plate for a full season.
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A Look at Grissom
Drafted in the 11th round by the Braves in 2019, infielder Vaughn Grissom did nothing but hit in his brief MiLB career. A career .315 hitter in the Minors, Grissom hit .312/.404/.487 with 11 home runs and 29 extra base hits with Rome (A+) last year, before getting promoted to Mississippi (AA). The 22-year-old posted similar numbers (.363/.408/.516, three HR & seven XBH in 2022) in a brief taste of AA before being shuttled to the Majors in August to replace an injured Ozzie Albies.
Much like in the Minors, Grissom hit rather well in his time in the Majors,. Grissom hit .291/.353/.440 with five home runs and 11 extra base hits — 10 as a second baseman — with the Braves over 41 games (156 PA) last season. From August 10 (Grissom’s MLB debut) to September 25, Grissom’s 10 extra base hits ranked as the ninth-best among players at second base, tied alongside Jake Cronenworth and Rodolfo Castro. The right-handed hitter showed a fair amount of pop & bat speed, as he recorded an above-average Barrel% (7.4%) rate all while he displayed a keen ability to jump on mistakes.
Grissom did demonstrate that his hitting tools could translate to the Majors, but the youngster also proved to be quite aggressive at the dish. The Braves infielder posted below-average Chase% (35.0) and Whiff% (25.6%) rates, and often looked to jump on the first pitch.
There have been questions as to whether the 6’3” infielder can handle the rigors playing as a shortstop. With Albies entrenched at second base, an opportunity for Grissom won’t appear there unless an injury arises. Some, including the folks over at MLB.com, pondered as to whether Grissom could shift over to third as his frame continues to fill out. But with Austin Riley at third, that doesn’t seem to be much of a possibility in Atlanta.
With Dansby Swanson now headed to the Cubs, Grissom could snare the starting shortstop position in 2023. But, where does Grissom fall into the fantasy baseball picture for 2023?
2023 Fantasy Outlook
We should note right off the top that Grissom is set to be eligible to play both second and short this season, thanks to his time spent filling in for Albies last season. However, the 22-year-old won’t gain eligibility at short until he plays a required number of games. That’s not much of a problem, as Grissom should actually hold more value at the 2B position, thanks to a lack of star power at the position. ESPN currently ranks Grissom as the 12th-best 2B available in drafts, sandwiched between Gleyber Torres — who we covered earlier in the year — and Brandon Lowe.
Grissom possess a fair amount of both pop and speed, both tools that could carry the young Braves infielder into the top ten of second baseman come the end of the year. But like with other youngsters, there’s always some risk. Grissom’s aggressive approach at the plate may be an issue entering his first full year in the Majors.
It’s tough to work off of a small sample size, but Grissom does own the tools to be a valuable hitter at the MLB level. The Braves infielder has hit everywhere he’s played throughout his brief professional career, including the Majors. Now it’s time to see whether Grissom can put up strong numbers in his first full season. Grissom is set to be in the top-15 of all second basemen, falling in that 11-15 range. The youngster should also receive eligibility at short this year, which can add to his value.