Atlanta Braves Promote AJ Smith-Shawver to Gwinnett

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves / Brett Davis/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves made some minor league news today, as AJ Smith-Shawver is on his way to Gwinnett. Justin Toscano broke the news.

The 20-year-old pitcher started the year in Rome and will now find his way to Triple-A Gwinnett before June. He has put on an impressive display and is being rewarded once again.

As mentioned, he started in Rome. He only got 3 starts and 14 innings pitched, but he had a 0.00 ERA along with a 1.44 FIP and 2.75 xFIP. He was overpowering hitters with a 44.2% strikeout rate. This led to him quickly being promoted to Double-A Mississippi.

This is where most figured he would be for a good portion of the year. Maybe he would get moved to Gwinnett to end the season if he pitched well. Instead, after 2 starts and 7 innings, Smith-Shawver will move to AAA. He did not allow a run in Mississippi and struck out 9 of 29 (31.0%).

Overall, Smith-Shawver has thrown 21 innings this year. He has faced 81 batters, struck out 32 (39.5%), and allowed only 11 hits (.149 batting average against). The biggest concern would be the walks. He walked 7 for an 8.6% walk rate.

He has some electric pitches, which can lead to those walks as a young pitcher attempts to learn how to control and command their arsenal.

Up next, Smith-Shawver heads to AAA competition. An aggressive promotion for the young pitcher. It will be interesting to see how he handles the competition at the highest level of minor league ball.

Something that will be discussed is if this move is due to the Max Fried and Kyle Wright injuries. While AJ Smith-Shawver is exciting and arguably the Braves' top prospect, this promotion does not necessarily mean he is in line for Atlanta over the next month.

It could be because two of Jared Shuster, Dylan Dodd, and Michael Soroka will probably need to become regular rotation members with Fried and Wright on the IL. That opens up roster spots in Gwinnett, meaning the Braves can test their young prospect in Smith-Shawver and see how he handles stiffer competition. He has outmatched opponents at the lower levels, so why not keep pushing him?

Who knows, if Smith-Shawver continues this run of dominance into Gwinnett, then there is an argument he could find his way to Truist Park sooner rather than later.