Braves Officially Call Up Prospect Schwellenbach For Wednesday Night Start

The Atlanta Braves have made one of the more surprising Double-A to Majors promotions in a while
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The Atlanta Braves made it official today, calling up another prospect straight from Double-A Mississippi. 

And this one’s even more surprising than some of the others. 

The Braves officially called up pitcher Spencer Schwellenbach from Double-A for tonight’s start against the Washington Nationals in Truist Park. He was added to the open spot on the 40-man roster vacated by the DFA of Joey Wendle, with the corresponding roster move for his activation being to option reliever Jimmy Herget back to Triple-A Gwinnett.  

Schwellenbach, who turns 24 this Friday, has just two starts and thirteen innings in the upper minors. They’ve been really good starts, with the righthander allowing only five hits but no runs while walking just one and striking out seventeen. Those prolific strikeout numbers were one of the factors that manager Brian Snitker acknowledged went into this decision when discussing the call-up with the media prior to Tuesday’s game. 

“Look at his numbers, they’re really, really good. [...] I mean, it’s kind of attractive when you get guys out. That’s the way you get noticed.” 

The Braves have noticed, all right. While this is partially driven by need - of the five pitchers to start a game in the fifth starter’s spot, only one of them has either an ERA below 4.66 or a non-losing record, and that’s the injured AJ Smith-Shawver - the team believes that he has the ‘stuff’ to hang with major league hitters. “They said he’s a strike thrower. I know he’s an athlete — he was a really good position player, too, at Nebraska,” said Snitker. 

That collegiate track record is one of the things that makes this call-up so improbable. 

Schwellenbach, originally from Saginaw, MI, was primarily a position player at Nebraska, batting .282 with twelve homers in his 107 career games. But his arm was so good that the team had him start working as a reliever in 2021, closing games for the Big Ten powerhouse. 

After putting up a 0.57 ERA and 10 saves in 31.2 innings, Atlanta took him exclusively as a pitcher in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft, but his professional debut was delayed due to Tommy John surgery. Finally debuting last year, Schwellebach proved the wait was worth it. He went 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his 65 innings, making sixteen starts between Single-A Augusta (thirteen) and High-A Rome (three). Starting back at Rome this year, Schwellenbach quickly earned a promotion to Double-A Mississippi after his first six starts saw him go 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA for the Emperors. 

Schwellebach’s not the first Braves player to come to the majors and skip Triple-A, but he might be the most unexpected. Centerfielder Michael Harris II and infielder Vaughn Grissom both did it under Alex Anthopoulos, while starter Max Fried’s 2017 debut (under a previous general manager) came after the lefty made nineteen starts in Mississippi, although Fried did return to Triple-A that season after four relief appearances in the majors. 

The most surprised, however, may have been Schwellenbach himself. 

“I was packed up and ready to go to Virginia (Triple-A Gwinnett began a series in Virginia versus the Norfolk Tides on Tuesday evening), and they called me in and told me,” Schwellenbach told the media on Tuesday afternoon in the Braves clubhouse. “I was shocked.” 

“I wasn’t thinking about” a possible promotion, he said. “I was just trying to do my thing, come out every day and do what I’m asked to.”

The thing he’s now being asked to do is to get outs against Major League hitters in Atlanta. 

It’s okay, as he already has a plan for that. “Just pounding the zone, throwing strikes, getting on top of guys early and just being able to put them away when I get to two strikes,” he said.


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Lindsay Crosby

LINDSAY CROSBY

Managing Editor for Braves Today and the 2023 IBWAA Prospects/Minors Writer of the Year. You can reach him at contact@bravestoday.com