Sunday was a time the Braves’ future became its present.
The youth movement was in full force in the Braves’ 5-1 win over the Cubs in Chicago. Max Fried started, with David Freitas catching. A.J. Minter threw a perfect inning in relief. The infield trio of Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies and Rio Ruiz each had key plays in the win.
“A lot of those guys had really good series, the young players,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “They did really well. It was a cool atmosphere against the reigning world champions. That’s a big deal. That place was rocking. It was a beautiful day and you’re playing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. They handled themselves very well. Every one of them.”
The win excited more than just Snitker and Braves fans. Swanson said the young guns are growing more comfortable with each other.
“Look at Freitas behind the plate and Fried throwing,” Swanson said. “A.J. pitched yesterday as well. And obviously Rio, myself and Ozzie, and you had Ender, he’s pretty young too. So all the young guys. It was fun. It was good to be able to come out with a win first of all, and to be able to do it together, put together a team effort and come out with a clean game was also very good.”
The time Swanson and Albies spent in Double-A Mississippi together is often pointed to as valuable. The two have confirmed such, but Swanson said it’s easy to forget that despite all the talent coming through the minors, the current crop of young Braves has had limited time together.
“I think what people don’t realize is, we haven’t really had a lot of time together,” Swanson said. “I mean yeah, we played together. But it was Mississippi for a couple months, and we haven’t really been together that long. We just need to be able to continue to grow together and continue to develop. What anyone does, if they want to be successful, is grow together. That’s not just in sports but that’s family, relationships and all that too. So you know we’re doing our best to grow together and we’ll see what becomes of it.”
Since Rio Ruiz returned from Triple-A Gwinnett Friday, he’s had a hit in all three games, including two multi-hit showings. Swanson has looked like a new man since returning from his Triple-A stint, hitting safely in 19 of his last 23 games. Albies has hit safely in 14 of his previous 17 contests.
The Swanson-Albies duo is collectively slashing .328/.403/.480 with 19 RBIs and 30 runs in 24 games together.
“We are able to benefit from each other because certain things I’ve seen and gone through, someone else may not have,” Swanson said. “And I can help them with that. If there’s experiences they’ve had that I haven’t, then we can bounce off each other. It’s just nice to be able to have all different kinds of experiences coming from all different places, and being able to grow with that. Just look at the diversity of the younger group of guys. Then you sprinkle on the veteran leadership of guys. It’s definitely nice right now.
“We understand comradery and chemistry is important. We’re not really focused on the years to come. It’s about being able to learn and grow right now, what we’re able to do today to reset to where we want to go. So we’re trying to stay true to that. … There’s definitely learning curves. There’s failure in this game. So being able to adjust and battle through that is important too.”
There’s more help on the way via Gwinnett. Infielder Johan Camargo will be activated Tuesday, and starter Luiz Gohara is expected to be added to the major-league roster.
Snitker believes that regardless of playing time, taking in the major-league atmosphere is extremely beneficial to developing prospects. Figuring out playing time for the stockpiled youth is a problem he enjoys having.
“This is normally a month where they’re down, starting (Tuesday),” Snitker said. “Today was the last day of the minor league season. It’s good for them to go through it, to experience it, the continual workouts, the game every day. Whether they get in a lot or a little, it’s a good experience for them to experience that last month of the major-league season.”
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