With the 59th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft the Atlanta Braves have selected Spencer Schwellenbach, a two-way player out of Nebraska. Schwellenbach is a 6’1, 200-pound shortstop and pitcher that hits and throws right-handed. Schwellenbach is a player that teams are legitimately split on drafting as a bat or arm, though more favor him as an arm.
Baseball America - 52
Perfect Game - 35
Pipeline - 54
Fangraphs - N/A (of 71 ranked)
ESPN - 46
The Athletic/Keith Law - 29
2019 hitting - 44 G, 200 PA, .275/.415/.400, 5 2B, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 6-8 SB, 29 BB, 44 K
2020 hitting - 15 G, 70 PA, .295/.386/.377, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1-3 SB, 7 BB, 8 K
2021 hitting - 48 G, 223 PA, .284/.403/.459, 12 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 9-9 SB, 30 BB, 44 K
2021 pitching - 18 G/0 ST, 31.2 IP, 0.57 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 34 K, 8 BB
Hit - 50
Schwellenbach projects to be an average hitter who makes solid contact and hits a lot of line drives.
Power - 50
Schwellenbach has some power in his bat despite not having huge home run totals, regularly posting high exit velocities. It’s probably a bit of a stretch to project it to be more than average to slightly above in terms of over-the-fence power, but he should have plenty of extra base power in his bat.
Run - 50
Running is another average grade for Schwellenbach.
Fielding - 45
The only tool for him as a hitter that isn’t at least average is his fringy shortstop glove as he isn’t quite athletic enough to stick at shortstop long term. He is much more likely to end up at third base and be a solid defender there, which would mean average or better tools across the board.
Arm - 65
The only tool with Schwellenbach as a hitter that grades as better than average is his plus to plus-plus arm, which is more than enough to handle either position on the left side of the infield.
Fastball - 60
Schwellenbach comes into games in relief but has easy velocity which has been up to 99 mph and sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. Of course, there is some question about how that would hold up in a starting role since he only pitched out of the Huskers bullpen.
The slider is an average looking pitch and one that, to this point, hasn’t really shown much more than that, but he could potentially make gains by dropping the hitting.
Change - 50
Schwellenbach has potential to have an above-average change from what we’ve seen, but we just haven’t seen much changeup usage, which is not surprising when considering he pitches out of the bullpen.
Schwellenbach has no trouble throwing strikes and because of that and his mechanics as well as his general athletic ability, it isn’t hard to put an above-average command grade on him.
Schwellenbach projects best on the mound, and it’s hard to really know what he could be there because it requires the risky conversion into starting pitcher from reliever and with that, a lot of projecting.
Thoughts on Pick
Schwellenbach is interesting, but to be picked this high the Braves had to have seen something. If he sees the change and slider progress and has no issues keeping the velocity as he stretches out into starting, then he could be more than the No. 4 or No. 5 starter he projects as on paper. As a hitter, it’s hard to see him doing enough to be a league average regular at third base or short, but there are some here at Talking Chop that are higher than others on his bat.