The defending champion Braves made a series of roster moves on Wednesday, in the process activating two players that will turn heads for different reasons. Infielder Vaughn Grissom was promoted from Double-A and is an exciting, young prospect. Kirby Yates, a former All-Star closer who is 35 years old and coming off a string of injuries, was also activated.
Grissom, 21, is currently listed as the Braves’ top prospect by MLB.com. He was an 11th-round pick out of high school in 2019 and he’s excelled in his brief professional time since. This is actually a lightning-fast climb, as Grissom started the season with High-A Rome. He’s played in just 22 games in Double-A, hitting .363/.408/.517 with three doubles, a triple, three homers, 12 RBI, 10 runs and seven steals. He’s never appeared in Triple-A.
Grissom has played second, short and third in his time in the minors. With Ozzie Albies still recovering from foot surgery and Orlando Arcia hitting the injured list Wednesday, second base appears to be open for Grissom to get regular playing time in an otherwise loaded infield with Matt Olson, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson.
This is the second time this season the Braves have promoted a top prospect straight from Double-A. With center fielder Michael Harris, it has worked out very well thus far, so the Braves are hoping for similar success with Grissom.
As for Yates, he has not pitched in the majors in nearly two full years (he was injured for most of 2020 and had Tommy John surgery in March of 2021). Back in 2019, however, he led the majors with 41 saves while pitching to a 1.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP with 101 strikeouts against 12 unintentional walks in 60 2/3 innings for the Padres.
Yates has only allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings over the course of his eight rehab assignment appearances, which spanned July 16-Aug. 7.
It’ll be interesting to see how Yates fares, but if there’s a way he pitches back to form, he’ll join a late-inning stable of big-name relievers. The Braves’ back-end trio of Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter and Will Smith were a big part of winning the World Series last season. This time around, they’ve got Minter, Collin McHugh and Raisel Iglesias setting up for longtime elite closer Kenley Jansen.
The Braves enter Wednesday 65-46, which is good for the top NL wild card spot. They are seven games back of the Mets in the NL East.