Rookie Dansby Swanson’s first big-league home run came with a sprint, not a trot.
Swanson, the Braves’ top-rated prospect, smacked an inside-the-park home run against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday. He’s the first Braves player to hit an inside-the-parker for his first home run since Paul Runge in 1985, and the first Braves player to hit one since Wes Helms in 2001.
“I don’t think you can really imagine that,” Swanson said. “What’s funny is I’ve never hit an inside-the-park in my life and I’ve already hit three this year. I guess that’s a good omen.”
Swanson’s first two inside-the-park homers as a professional came in the minor leagues. This one came during his 61st plate appearance in the big leagues.
With two outs in the second inning and the bases empty, Swanson drilled Gonzalez’s 1-2 pitch on a line to center field as Trea Turner turned and gave chase. The ball appeared as if it might clear the wall in center before veering right late and hitting near the top of a taller section of the wall in right-center.
“He hit it good, and it just kept going,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said.
The ball bounced off the wall and past Turner, who appeared to misjudge the carom, as Swanson headed to third. Coach Bo Porter waved Swanson home and he easily beat right fielder Bryce Harper’s throw to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.
According to Major League Baseball’s Statcast tracking data, Swanson rounded the bases in 14.97 seconds, the fastest time of the season for a home run.
“When I hit it, I knew I hit it good and when I rounded first I saw it ricochet so I knew for sure I was getting a triple,” Swanson said. “And kind of just judging by the crowd reaction and everything, I was just going to go until Bo stopped me.”
Swanson entered the game hitting .236 with a .283 on-base percentage in 60 plate appearances and was 1-for-17 in his past four games. The Braves promoted Swanson from Double-A Mississippi on Aug. 17 with the plan of giving him some major league experience and evaluate whether he should start 2017 with the big-league club.
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