Don’t sleep on Vaughn Grissom, an overlooked piece of the Red Sox future appeared first on NBC Sports Boston
As we try to spot the next great Red Sox team, we tend to highlight either the guys already here, like Rafael Devers, Triston Casas, and Brayan Bello, or the up-and-coming prospects, like Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, and Kyle Teel. .
And we go right over Vaughn Grissom.
In the midst of a down season, it’s easy to forget that the Red Sox made an intriguing move for a potential piece of the future. Trading lefty Chris Sale to the Braves wasn’t without risk, but chief baseball officer Craig Breslow believed Grissom deserved it.
Now the rookie will be given every opportunity to prove that, coming into spring training as the favorite to open the season at second base, where his minor league numbers suggest his bat will absolutely play, as long as his glove allows.
All Grissom knows is that after outplaying some of the more heralded prospects in Atlanta’s vaunted system to Homer in his Fenway Park debut in 2022only to lose the starting job last year, he may never have a better opportunity than what awaits him here.
“The Braves gave me the best shot I could ask for,” Grissom said recently. “I don’t want to say I missed the opportunity, but things didn’t go my way, I guess. When one door closes, another one opens. So I’m happy to be where I am. right now.”
He takes nothing for granted, even though five of the seven players who claimed the most reps at second last year are no longer in the organization, and the two that remain — Pablo Reyes and Enmanuel Valdez — are not considered full-time players.
Grissom has a chance to do his job, especially if he also contributes in average defense. There’s no doubt he can hit, as evidenced by his lifetime .320 average in the minors since being selected in the 11th round of the 2019 draft, or even his .287 mark over two major league seasons. great.
He believes he learned something last season, when the Braves let All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson leave in free agency and then turned the search for his replacement into an internal competition. Many considered Grissom the favorite, but veteran Orlando Arcia beat him out in spring training, and outside of a few innings that spelled injured second baseman Ozzie Albies, Grissom spent most of the season at Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit 0.330 in 103. games.
He will bring a different mindset to his pursuit of the second base job this spring.
“I don’t know why in Atlanta, I just felt a lot of pressure,” Grissom said. “I was thinking about everything I was doing. I feel like I have a good opportunity here to go and play. Second base is obviously a lot closer to first, so I have a lot more time to throw. When I I first played second base with the Braves, I was young. Now that I have some experience and know the game, I think it’s going to be a lot simpler, a lot easier.”
Grissom just turned 23 and should be the youngest player on the Opening Day roster unless one of the Florida prospects surprises us. But he’s not acting like he’s being given anything.
“I still believe with all my heart that I am fighting for a job,” he said. “You’ve got to stay that way, bro. (Nick) Yorke, Marcelo, all these guys are coming, you know what I’m saying? You’ve got to act like there’s somebody in front of you. There’s got to be something. You can’t settle just because they traded Chris Sale or whatever, like, “He’s a cool name and he’s done great things, so I’m just going to take an opportunity.” That doesn’t make sense to me.
“When people say, ‘That’s it, you’re the guy,’ no. I still have to go to spring training. If I hit every at-bat, I’m not the guy. If I let five balls go through my legs, I’m not dude. It could happen like that. So I’m not trying to get comfortable with anything.”
There’s always the possibility that Sale finally stays healthy and gives the Braves the 30 starts the Red Sox have been waiting for in 2022 and ’23. The Red Sox can live with that if Grissom blossoms into the player they believe he can be — which is as much a part of the future as the young guys he’s joining and even younger ones down the road.