Bill Shanks

Braves should promote Albies, Swanson

Ozzie Albies plays off second base in a spring training in March.
Ozzie Albies plays off second base in a spring training in March. AP

Patience is required for any rebuilding project. We’re finding that out the hard way watching the Atlanta Braves on a semi-regular basis. But along the way, the balance of patience and the need to see progress must be met.

The Atlanta lineup right now is horrible. With Tyler Flowers out, there is no legitmate catcher. Erick Aybar has been horrible at shortstop, both offensively and defensively. And beyond Freddie Freeman, there is no power. Nick Markakis can only dream of the days when he could hit around 15 home runs per season.

There is something the Braves could do that might help things. They could promote second baseman Ozzie Albies and shortstop Dansby Swanson from Double-A Mississippi.

Albies is just 19 years old, but he has dominated the Southern League this season with a .372 batting average. He struggled a bit when the Braves sent him up to Triple-A Gwinnett, but when they sent Albies back to work exclusively with Swanson as a double-play combination, Albies has thrived once again.

Swanson has not been as electric as Alex Bregman, the player taken right after Swanson at the top of the first round a year ago. Bregman made his big league debut Monday night for Houston. Swanson has been solid, however, hitting .278 between Carolina and Mississippi. Swanson has 24 doubles, eight home runs, 47 RBI and 11 stolen bases.

Could Albies and Swanson use more seasoning? Certainly. Would it might be better to simply let them debut in April, when the SunTrust Park also debuts? Sure.

But the Braves are in trouble. They are on pace for a 55-win season. It would be the worst season in the 51-year history of the franchise’s time in Atlanta. The Braves need another burst of energy, something that will help make us all survive the rest of the season. A managerial change was always only going to do so much. More is needed, and maybe, just maybe bringing up some young stars would help.

This is season two of this rebuilding project. The last time the Braves went through this, the 1987 season was the second year. That season, we saw Tom Glavine for the first time, and the Braves also promoted Ron Gant and Jeff Blauser — a second baseman and a shortstop.

Gant was 22, while Blauser was just 21 at the time. Both had more minor league time than Albies and Swanson have now, but the Braves weren’t afraid then to get their feet wet. They weren’t afraid that some stumbles along the way would ruin their career, and Gant especially had some bumps in the road.

Both had fine careers. Did the promotions of Gant and Blauser save Atlanta’s season in 1987? No. But it did give a glimpse into the future. The next season, the Braves promoted more young players — Mark Lemke, Tommy Gregg, Pete Smith and John Smoltz. Then in 1989, we saw David Justice for the first time.

We can either see Albies and Swanson go into next season looking forward to their first major league action, or they can look back on getting their first experience out of the way with a late-season promotion. Here’s one vote to get that out of the way now. Let’s not wait. Let’s see some hope for the future, since the current lineup is just too tough to watch.

The Braves shouldn’t wait to give us a reason to watch once the new stadium opens. Give us a reason to watch now. Bring up some stars who can keep us interested and make us know this mess will get better.

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