To open space on the 40-man roster, Atlanta activated first baseman Mike Ford from the 10-day IL and designated him for assignment and also transferred outfielder Adam Duvall from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL. Atlanta also announced that infielder Orlando Arcia is headed to the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain and that righty Huascar Ynoa has been optioned to Triple-A. That frees up a pair of spots on the 26-man roster for Grissom and Yates.
Still just 21 years old, Grissom was an 11th-round pick in 2019 who has skyrocketed through the minors, culminating in a .363/.408/.516 slash through his first 98 plate appearances in Double-A. That’s his only experience above A-ball, though this year’s .312/.404/.487 output in 344 plate appearances at High-A bear mention as well. It’s the second time this season that the Braves have aggressively promoted a top prospect directly from the Double-A ranks, and it’s easy to imagine that the major success of Michael Harris II may have emboldened the front office to go back to the well a second time.
Despite that humble draft status, Grissom has ascended to the No. 77 spot on Baseball America’s latest top-100 prospect ranking and No. 98 over at MLB.com. He’s cracked 14 home run, 20 doubles and two triples across those two minor league levels this season, all while going 27-for-32 in stolen base attempts. Grissom doesn’t walk much (8.1% on the season but just four walks in 98 Double-A plate appearances), but he’s also fanned in only 12.2% of his plate appearances this season.
Grissom has been primarily a shortstop this season and throughout his minor league career, but the Braves have given him seven starts at second base and six at third base so far in the minors this year. Scouting reports at BA. MLB.com and FanGraphs question his ability to remain at shortstop in the long run, but his bat is thought to be solid enough to profile at second, third or even in the outfield (though he’s played infield exclusively to this point in his pro career). In the short term, with Arcia headed to the IL and Ozzie Albies still mending a broken foot, it seems likely that Grissom will be ticketed for work at second base.
Starting Grissom’s service clock now sets him up for a potential trip to free agency in the 2028-29 offseason, although plenty can change that trajectory along the way. Albies and third baseman Austin Riley are signed long-term in the infield, and it’s not yet known whether the Braves will be able to retain free-agent-to-be Dansby Swanson beyond the current season. Even if Swanson were to depart, Grissom wouldn’t be a lock to step right into the fray. He’s largely untested above Class-A, and while Harris’ success story is encouraging, it’s more common for players — even top prospects — to struggle following such aggressive promotions. Regardless, he’ll earn some big league service time this season, and his placement on the 40-man roster a year sooner than was required will accelerate his minor league option schedule.
Turning to the veteran Yates, he’ll add yet another high-profile, potentially dominant arm to an Atlanta bullpen that is hardly short on such commodities. The 35-year-old inked a two-year, $8.25MM deal this winter — a backloaded contract that pays him just $1MM in 2022 due to the fact that Yates has been shelved for the entire season to this point while rehabbing from last year’s Tommy John surgery. When healthy most recently, in 2018-19, he was an All-Star closer with the Padres, pitching to a combined 1.67 ERA with 53 saves, a huge 38.7% strikeout rate and a tiny 6.1% walk rate.
It remains to be seen whether Yates can recapture that form, but his work on a minor league rehab assignment thus far certainly creates some optimism. Across three Braves affiliates, Yates logged a combined 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball with just four hits allowed and a 10-to-2 K/BB ratio. He’ll join Kenley Jansen, Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek and Collin McHugh near the back of an outstanding bullpen.
As for the 30-year-old Ford, he’s gone hitless in eight big league plate appearances with the Braves this season and logged a combined .150/.320/.175 batting line in 50 plate appearances between Atlanta, Seattle and San Francisco. The former Yankees minor leaguer was never considered among the top prospects in the New York organization but does carry a .258/.355/.481 batting line and 61 homers through 1294 career plate appearances in Triple-A. With trades of players who’ve been on Major League rosters this season now prohibited after the Aug. 2 deadline, Ford will be placed on waivers within the next week and be made available to all 29 other clubs.