The Atlanta Braves shook up their roster today, DFAing Drew Stubbs and demoting Jace Peterson, John Gant and Chris Withrow. Technically Withrow got demoted yesterday and was supposed to be replaced with Emilio Bonifacio, but arcane baseball rules intervened. In their stead the team called up Matt Tuiasosopo, Chase d’Arnaud, Reid Brignac and Mike Foltynewicz. It’s not worth knowing much about those first three, as they’re likely just placeholders until the next roster shakeup, and it will be interesting to see how Folty does this go-around.
The silver lining I’d like to pull out of these moves is the impact it has on Jace Peterson. To begin with he’s a curious player, and his place on any major league roster is still largely up for debate. Of the 200 games he’s played in the majors the past three years, he’s started 168 of them, so one might think he’s supposed to start. But scouts and baseball analysts are split on whether he’s a starter or a bench player.
With this demotion, it may look like Jace as a starter might be going by the wayside, but his career to this point reminds me of another Braves player — Ron Gant.
Jace first 3 MLB seasons: 200 games, .605 OPS
Gant first 3 MLB seasons: 242 games, .694 OPS
Like Jace, Gant was demoted during his third major league season after starting the season hitting .172/.233/.309 through 60 games. Peterson has started this season hitting .182/.260/.205.
While Gant was a couple of years younger and a far more talented prospect than Jace is, I find some similarities of their career arcs to this point intriguing. Both were given the starting job in two major league seasons, both struggled to begin their third season, and both were demoted mid-season to the minors.
The move to the minors worked for Gant, who turned his demotion into the fuel that propelled him to become the player that he ultimately became — an All-Star and Silver Slugger with multiple top-10 MVP finishes. While Jace is a rung below Gant in the tools department, he still has a strong set of major league caliber tools that could make him a valuable starter at second base, or a super-utility player who can play all over (think Omar Infante).
So I look forward to seeing what Jace does with the rest of his season. How will he respond to this possibly demoralizing event in his career? He hasn’t been in the minors since 2014, so this could be a shock. Will he use this event like Gant did 27 years ago to become the best version of the player many scouts and people in the Braves front office believe he can be?
Or am I reaching to find silver linings in this miserable baseball season for Braves fans…