The Atlanta Braves were long connected with Spencer Schwellenbach to be their first round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. That of course did not work out the way many mock drafts had projected, but with the two-way star from Nebraska still on the board in the second round, the Braves were able to nab him a round later.
Did not play
What we saw in 2021
Schwellenbach is a guy who may not have represented the most value in the first round of the draft, but as a second rounder does bring plenty of value and he signed for a little underslot in the second round to only increase the value of that pick.
Of course, the reason that Schwellenbach did not play in 2021 after being drafted is because shortly after our midseason rankings dropped, so did news that he would require Tommy John surgery that would end his 2021 season. This was always a consideration with him as he is a guy who had a past arm surgery and because of that didn’t pitch in practice all season, so the Braves were well aware of this possibility before drafting him.
The biggest question most have with Schwellenbach is where he will play. He starred at shortstop for Nebraska and while he may not have the foot speed to handle the position as a pro, he has the tool set to be a quality third baseman. However, the Braves most certainly prefer him as a pitcher, a role he filled out of the pen for the Huskers this year in a dominant fashion.
Schwellenbach is a pitcher who can hit as high as 99 MPH off the mound with a slider that can also get swings and misses. The change up is still something that needs work which is not surprising considering this is a guy who hasn’t spent much time pitching yet as well as fine tuning of his command which he does have some feel for.
With his surgery and some time to develop as a more complete pitcher, the Braves are seeing a guy who could potentially start for them down the road with the fallback of being an infielder if pitching didn’t work out, because the bat really does have some pop in it.
Outlook for 2022
The expectation for him in 2022 is that when he is ready to play he will likely be brought along slowly during his recovery with an eye on 2023 to really get turned loose. The word we have gotten is that the type of Tommy John repair he received could very well lead to a shorter than normal recovery timetable. Where he starts 2022 will be tough to say considering he has only roughly 30 career innings pitched in college and all coming out of the bullpen, plus the fact he will be coming off Tommy John.