CUMBERLAND, Ga. -- It felt kind of like opening day again on Tuesday at SunTrust Park.
Forget the fact that the team had been on a dismal road trip for the last two weeks and were ready to be back at home. That wasn't it.
Instead, right-handed pitcher Lucas Sims and infielder Ozzie Albies had been called-up to make their major league debuts against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fans have been awaiting their arrival for awhile. Albies is the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Braves farm system, and Sims the No. 11 pitcher, according to MLB Pipeline.
Multiple young players have made their debut for the Braves this season, and it appears the Braves are finally ready to begin the youth era and put the talented pieces they've acquired on the field together. The pieces have been coming together for some time, but this is a big move.
But one young face is noticeably absent, shortstop Dansby Swanson. The former top prospect was sent down during the road trip after struggling for most of the season. He was only batting .213/.287/.312, and while he had a solid month of June, his bat went cold. Manager Brian Snitker took him out of the everyday lineup, and he was eventually sent down.
Braves general manager John Coppolella told 11Alive that Albies getting called-up had nothing to do with Swanson's recent struggles.
"They were not any way tied into each other. The big thing about sending Dansby down, it wasn’t because he wasn’t playing well, it was because we want him to get at bats," he said.
Rookie Johan Camargo came onto the scene and surprised many with his bat. He's hitting .295 with 17 RBIs in 57 games. He became the regular starter at shortstop with Swanson getting called down. He's also made some good plays in the infield, including tracking down a difficult pop-up in Los Angeles that made highlight reels.
Coppolella and the Braves front office tried to make some moves before Monday's trade deadline, but there was no deal they were willing to make. Coppolella wouldn't elaborate on who they were targeting, but multiple reports said they had been going after starting pitcher Sonny Gray, who ended up going to the New York Yankees.
As the deadline passed, the front office realized it was an opportune time to call up Sims and Albies.
"It just worked out that way. We got through the trade deadline and we met and talked more about our club. And it just seemed like a way for us to get better if we couldn’t make moves at the trade deadline. We made a number of phone calls and there wasn’t the right deal out there for us, and we thought this is a way to make our club better while keeping our young players and trying to build towards a championship team," Coppolella said.
It also forced the Braves have to make some major defensive changes. With Matt Kemp now on the disabled list, Snitker put Matt Adams in left field. That could push Brandon Phillips over to third, but Snitker still has some convincing to do. Sean Rodriguez played at third on Tuesday, and Freddie Freeman is back at first base for good, according to Snitker. When Kemp returns, Adams likely won't go back to third, Snitker said.
"We’re a different climate than we were a few weeks ago," Snitker said about the shake-up. "We’re a different team than we were a few weeks ago. We’re kind of ever-evolving."
As for Swanson, Coppolella said there's no time table for his return.
"Biggest thing, get at bats and swing right," Coppolella said. "We have all the faith in the world in Dansby Swanson."
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