BS Report: April 10th

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Through the first 11 games of the Braves’ season, the biggest surprise has been Dansby Swanson, the hometown boy who had been a disappointment in his first two-and-a-half seasons. He had not disappointed defensively, as last year Swanson became a Gold Glove candidate. But offensively, Swanson had struggled. He came into the season as a .243 hitter, and for someone who was the top overall pick in the draft a few years ago, that was not good enough. Give Swanson credit. He made an effort to get better. First, Swanson had surgery to remove a loose body in his left wrist, which had caused great discomfort. And then Swanson got with Hall of Famer Chipper Jones to work on his swing. Jones is a hitting savant, and he broke down Swanson’s swing. Now, Swanson has a new approach and a new stance, which looks a lot like what Jones looked like as a right-handed hitter. His left leg is back a bit, and he’s not had problems so far with the slider. Swanson is also more patient and he’s going toward the opposite field more. In the three games since manager Brian Snitker moved him up in the lineup to the sixth spot, Swanson has two home runs, a triple and eight runs batted in. At some point, Snitker might be tempted to move Swanson up higher in the order, particularly if Josh Donaldson continues to struggle. I believe the long-term goal is to have Swanson follow Ozzie Albies in the top two spots in the order. For now, though, Swanson lengthens the Atlanta lineup by being down in the sixth spot. – This offense has been really good so far, and that’s with Donaldson not doing a thing so far – and he will, eventually. I really doubt Donaldson will turn out to be another Dan Uggla or BJ Upton – a veteran the Braves brought in who flopped. And one thing that cannot be lost in Atlanta’s good start is the defense. They’ve been tremendous, including Swanson and Donaldson. We know the outfield is really good, with Ronald Acuna, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis. But having Swanson also hit, to compliment his great defense, now makes him a complete player. That’s what he was projected to be when he was drafted number one overall by the Diamondbacks and then traded to Atlanta. We’ve seen Alex Bregman, who was drafted right behind Swanson at number two by the Astros, become a star and even now has a long-term contract. If Swanson somehow keeps up this great start, he’ll follow Ronald Acuna as the next Atlanta young player who will get that big deal. Swanson’s emergence gives Braves fans a lot of hope that the three-game losing streak to start the season is a distant memory, and the team we’ve seen – led by Swanson – since that opening series is more indicative of what this Braves team will be this season. And that’ll make Swanson – a hometown boy – the most promotable player for the Braves. Putting him on billboards and promos before he even got to the big leagues was a mistake, but now the mistake may be everyone believing Swanson will not live up to that potential. It took a few years, but Swanson looks like he is becoming a star.