ATLANTA — One of the biggest debates surrounding the duo of Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson — beyond when they’ll actually arrive in Atlanta — was seemingly answered Thursday as they teamed up with Double-A Mississippi.
Swanson will play shortstop, with Albies at second base, providing some clarity — at least for now — with how the Braves plan to handle the positional futures of two players who entered the organization at shortstop.
"I think if you’re seeing where Dansby’s at shortstop and we have Ozzie at second right now and we’re going to go that way for the time being, that probably lends a nod toward going that way (in the majors)," said Braves general manager John Coppolella. "There isn’t anything set in stone. If we were to call them up right now, that’s the way it would be because that’s the way we’re doing it in the farm system."
Albies opened the season in Mississippi, hitting .369/.442/.512 in 84 at-bats and was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he had been playing at second base since June 5. His offense had dipped at the plate, though, hitting .248/.307/.351 at that level, but Coppolella said that wasn’t the reason for his moving back down a level.
Swanson has also slowed of late after moving up a level. He began the year in the Carolina League, where he slashed .333/.441/.526, and in 49 games at Double-A is hitting .254/.335/.401.
As for the decision to move Albies down instead of Swanson up, Coppolella said "We just felt it was the best move at the time for them both. We’re going to let them both play and we obviously could move them both up, and at any point we could call them up here too."
It’s that final sentiment that could be key. The Braves have plenty of options in their middle infield — with Erick Aybar, Chase d’Arnaud, Gordon Beckham and Jace Peterson — and while a pre-September call up for either Albies or Swanson seems a stretch, with Atlanta expected to be active ahead of the trade deadline, opportunities could arise.
Hence allowing them to build that rapport now as a potential double-play combo for years to come for this organization.
"I think it’s great," Coppolella said. "You saw a lot of it in spring training to where they really formed a bond. For them to be able to play with each other, it should be a fun team (in Mississippi). … It’s a great team to watch and it should be great for them just to learn more about each other and hopefully win a lot of games."