It’s been a productive spring for Braves prospect AJ Smith-Shawver, who made more than a cameo for the big-league team last season. Smith-Shawver impressed in some brief spot starts and was a regular in the Atlanta bullpen by the end of the regular season and NLDS loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yet, Smith-Shawver is also just 21 years old. He remains on the upswing, but some struggles with his secondary pitches were exposed in September and October.

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Spring training stats are relatively meaningless for most players with a proven track record. Smith-Shawver is one of the distinct few, as his appearances should not be taken with a grain of salt. Smith-Shawver fell in the Braves prospect rankings this spring, and he may now start the season in the minor leagues as a result.

As FanGraphs noted after Smith-Shawver’s last impressive appearance to start the spring, he doesn’t necessarily fit in to the Braves rotation plans right now.

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Smith-Shawver’s latest spring start raised some questions, and for good reason. He lasted three innings against the Yankees, but gave up seven hits and four runs against more big-league competition. That included some nasty strikeouts of Aaron Judge, but most of the damage against him came in a vital fourth inning, when he was eventually pulled.

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Smith-Shawver’s head is in the right place this spring, which is good news for a Braves pitching staff that will need him eventually, but that time is not now.