Braves not afraid to bring up young prospects

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

MIAMI — During his days in player development, Brian Snitker, who managed at all levels of the minors for many years, would sometimes tell his players something.

“You’re a lot closer than you think you are,” he would tell his minor leaguers.

These days, 21-year-olds Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom are starting in the major leagues. Spencer Strider is in the rotation. The Braves have relied on their young talent as much as their established major leaguers.

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Under president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves have not been shy about bringing up minor leaguers they think can contribute. The Braves don’t use any special formula – if you can help, you’ll be up.

It’s fair to assume the rest of the minor leaguers notice.

“When you’re bringing your own guys up,” Snitker said, “I think it makes all the guys in the minor leagues think, ‘This is real. If I do well and I’m focused and determined and have the dedication, this could happen to me also.’”

“I feel like it’ll make them hungrier to actually get up here and succeed, and do their best to get up here as quick as possible because they see that it’s happened twice this year,” Harris said.

Harris didn’t spend a lot of time at Double-A before the Braves called him up. Grissom played there less than Harris before receiving the call. Last year, Strider went from Low-A Augusta to High-A Rome to Double-A Mississippi to Triple-A Gwinnett – yes, all in the same season – before debuting with the big club. (Reflecting on this, Harris said: “That’s still crazy. Your first professional season, to actually make it up to the big leagues.”).

Harris and Strider are the National League’s leading candidates for Rookie of the Year. At this point, it would be a surprise if they didn’t finish Nos. 1 and 2, in either order. But even before them, Ian Anderson debuted in 2020, at 22 years old, and has experienced tons of postseason success through two seasons.

The Braves scout, draft and develop well. And in that final stage, they’re not afraid to bring up prospects.

“I think it’s just that they do a good job preparing us,” Anderson said. “I don’t think it’s a fluke that guys have come up and had success. I think that’s a credit to the guys that have already been here. They do a good job taking care of you. You feel right at home, you feel like you can go out there and just do your thing, and that goes a long way.”

In Friday’s victory, Grissom (a double) and Harris (a two-run homer) combined for a game-winning rally. “That’s just good system development,” starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi said.

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The Braves drafted and developed Austin Riley, who is a franchise cornerstone after his massive contract. They signed and developed Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies. Harris, Grissom and Strider are homegrown products. They drafted and developed Kyle Wright. They didn’t draft Max Fried, but they helped develop him.

And when his prospects inch closer to the majors, Anthopoulos isn’t afraid to pull the trigger. Harris said this would motivate him if he were still in the minors, so he’s sure it fuels others down there.

“They obviously do their best to try to bring up guys that they drafted or signed,” Harris said. “It’s obviously a good thing, it shows what kind of coaches we have down in the minors (and) the front office, what they see in their system. It’s obviously a good thing. If you’re a prospect, it’s a good thing for you because you have a higher chance (of being called up) instead of them going out to get somebody else.”

Ronald Acuña not in Sunday’s starting lineup

Acuña, who has been dealing with right knee soreness, was not in the Braves’ starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale.

After Saturday’s game, Snitker said Acuña will not hit the injured list. The Braves will simply have to manage the soreness.

In Sunday’s win, Acuña entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth and played right field in the bottom half. Those are good signs, and Snitker was encouraged by how the outfielder felt on Sunday morning.

Dansby Swanson was in the leadoff spot for the Braves. Grissom hit second for the first time in his career.

Rotation for Mets series

The Braves and Mets have released the probable starters for the huge four-game series at Truist Park.

Monday: Strider vs. right-hander Carlos Carrasco

Tuesday: Right-hander Charlie Morton vs. right-hander Taijuan Walker

Wednesday: Odorizzi vs. right-hander Max Scherzer

Thursday: TBA vs. right-hander Jacob deGrom

Travis d’Arnaud, should be good to go

After Sunday’s win, Snitker said the Braves expect Travis d’Arnaud (lower right leg injury) to play on Monday.

He has not played since Aug. 6.

Vaughn Grissom’s runs

Grissom scored a run in his first four MLB games, dating to his debut Wednesday.

Since 1901, he’s the first Braves player to score in his first four major-league contests.

Grissom has made an immediate impact since the Braves called him up.