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Vaughn Grissom: Champ or Chump for Fantasy Baseball

Vaughn Grissom - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Prospects, Draft Sleepers

When it comes to prospects, there are two camps that fantasy managers can fall into. Some have severe FOMO and attempt to roster every player called up with even a moderate pedigree, often wasting roster spots that could have been better used on older breakout players or consistent veterans. Others need a reason to roster prospects and miss out on some huge seasons because they were too slow to make the add.

When the Atlanta Braves called up Michael Harris II, the latter group saw a guy with minimal experience in the high minors, little power on the farm, and MiLB lines fueled largely by BABIP. His plate discipline looked good, but that wasn't enough to justify an add. As a result, one of their rivals is enjoying Harris's .293/.331/.512 line with 12 homers and 13 steals.

Remarkably, it looks like the Braves might have another one. Vaughn Grissom is a middle infielder, but otherwise his high BABIPs, strong MiLB plate discipline, and relative lack of power look similar to his teammate's. The 21-year-old is off to a scorching hot start with a .389/.450/.778 with two homers and a steal in 20 PAs and is available in about half of Yahoo! leagues. Let's talk about him.

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What Do Scouts Say About Vaughn Grissom?

Grissom is the consensus top prospect in Atlanta's system, though recent graduations have left the system relatively barren. FanGraphs believed that he was nowhere near ready in 2022, assigning him present scouting grades of 20 hit and 25 game power with much stronger future grades (45 and 50, respectively). Grissom is also expected to grow into above-average raw power at 55, though his current grade is only 50.

MLB Pipeline largely concurs, giving Grissom 55 hit and 50 power. Notably, his scouting report mentions outstanding bat-to-ball skills and ability to work a walk but questions his viability as an everyday shortstop, adding that he might need to add more pop as a third baseman. Considering that Grissom is playing 2B until Ozzie Albies is ready to return, fantasy managers don't need to be too concerned in redraft leagues.

Both outlets only give Grissom 50 speed, which doesn't jive with all of the stolen bases he recorded on the farm. Still, league-average speed is enough to steal bases if you know what you're doing, and Grissom likely does.


How Did Vaughn Grissom Fare on the Farm?

Grissom played in rookie league before the pandemic and was among the youngest players at Atlanta's alternate training site in 2020, so he didn't get a taste of full-season ball until 2021. He began the year at Low-A (Augusta), hitting .311/.402/.446 with five homers and 13 steals across 328 PAs. His plate discipline was outstanding with a 10.4 BB% against a 14.9 K%, suggesting an advanced plate approach. He also ran a .360 BABIP backed by a high 25.1 LD% and low 25.1 FB%, though the latter limited his pop.

The performance earned Grissom a brief taste of High-A where he hit .378/.519/.595 with two homers and three steals in 52 PAs for Rome. The sample was very small, but his plate discipline remained outstanding (21.2 BB%, 9.6 K%) while his 25 LD% supported his .375 BABIP. His 34.4 FB% increased slightly but still fell short of where sluggers want to live.

Grissom returned to Rome to begin his 2022 campaign and hit .312/.404/.487 with 11 HR and 20 SB in 344 PAs. The power spike was the result of career-best 37.3 FB% and 11.8% HR/FB marks, but the rest of his peripherals were consistent: 9.3 BB%, 11.6 K%, 22.9 LD%, and a .332 BABIP.

The performance earned him a shot at Double-A (Mississippi) where he hit .363/.408/.516 with three homers and seven steals in 98 PAs. His BB% cratered to 4.1, but his 14.3 K% still suggested a strong knowledge of the zone. He also kept hitting liners with a 22.4 LD%, though his FB% fell to 31.6.

Grissom has hit at every level by working walks without striking out often and taking advantage of a line drive swing to keep his BABIPs high. His home stadiums were all pitcher-friendly as well, with Augusta ranking in the 12th percentile for BABIP and 31st for homers in 2019 and Rome in the 66th percentile for BABIP but 11th for HR. Mississippi had a 64 HR factor and 99 hits factor from 2017 to 2019. Grissom's MiLB success was not ballpark-aided.

Grissom also figures to have a green light with the contending Braves as his stolen base success rates on the farm were good. He went 16-for-19 on SB attempts across all levels in 2021, good for a success rate of a little over 84%. He's gone 28-for-33 across all levels so far this season for a success rate of nearly 85%. Naturally, this bodes well for his fantasy value.


What Have We Learned About Vaughn Grissom?

Grissom's plate discipline has not looked good at the MLB level with a 38.5% chase rate and 15.9 SwStr%, but the small sample size and consistently strong MiLB rates suggest that he'll do better. That gives Grissom a relatively high floor for such a young prospect, especially since he figures to steal bases. Grissom was also promoted to the second slot in Atlanta's order on Sunday night, giving him more counting stat opportunities than a guy buried at the bottom.

The biggest weakness in Grissom's fantasy profile is probably that he loses playing time once Albies comes back, but he should provide plenty of fantasy value before that happens. He's a Champ that is worth rostering in all leagues that care about stolen bases.

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