The Braves drafted Braden Shewmake with their second first round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft from Texas A&M after a great career in the SEC. The thought with Shewmake was that he was a higher floor player who should be able to hit and defend at the big league level, though there were questions surrounding his potential power output due to his skinny frame as well as questions on his ability to handle shortstop long-term due to his speed potentially limiting his range, but he has shown out well there so far and could stick there, at second base, or end up as a super utility infielder down the line
Midseason Ranking: 18
2021 Stats: 344 PA, .228/.271/.401, 14 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 4-6 SB, 17 BB, 75 K
Shewmake hit well to start out his pro career in Low-A back in 2019, but struggled after being bumped up two levels at a time to Double-A however that was a very small sample size which would limit the concerns around it.
After essentially two years off from playing regular games, Shewmake returned to the field back in Double-A Mississippi this year and had quite the eventful season.
He started out in such an awful slump that he was one of the worst players statistically in all of minor league ball through the first two months of the year. In his first 90 plate appearances he managed to hit just .094/.144/.165.
Things took a sudden turn from there and over his next 154 plate appearances he started to hit like the guy who we watched play at A&M, posting a .333/.373/.563 slash line. Of course, he went back to slumping from there and in his final 120 plate appearances managed just a .174/.208/.322 slash to close out the year.
It was a very up and down year where Shewmake brought his hit tool into question for the first time in his career with the low average and on base percentage as well as the strikeout and walk rates. However, he did show flashes of better power potential than most expected out of college, especially during the middle of the season hot streak he experienced.
Shewmake could potentially move up a bit in the preseason ranking after at least calming some of the doubts that arose from the first two months of the season, but not a major jump up the board due to his additional prolonged slump to close the year.
We can likely expect him to start the season either in Triple-A or even back in Double-A with an opportunity to receive a quick promotion to Gwinnett. At this point, it is hard to say he doesn’t still have the ceiling he had back in June of 2019 when he was drafted, but there are more questions surrounding him now than we initially thought.