ROME, GA — The Atlanta Braves Greyson Jenista was promoted from Danville on Monday and made his Rome Braves debut Monday night against the Kannapolis Intimidators. The Braves second-rounder from this year’s MLB Draft got off to a good start and made quite the first impression.
Jenista hails from Wichita State where he had a fine three-year career. He really made a name for himself in his second summer on the Cape when he took home MVP honors. Those that didn’t know the Shockers’ slugger after his sophomore campaign certainly knew it after a successful stint in the prestigious wood bat summer league.
“I spent two years on the Cape,” Jenista told me earlier this season. “The first year was kind of an eye opening experience. The second year, it was kind of enjoyable. You didn’t take it for granted, so you’re able to enjoy your time up there a little more.”
Enjoy it he did, hitting .310 with 44 hits, four doubles, three home runs, 16 RBI and nine stolen bases in a Cape Cod All-Star, MVP campaign. To some, Jenista had a “down” junior season by his lofty standards as the power numbers didn’t increase as expected. The Braves benefitted, able to steal him in the second round.
“I was nervous,” Jenista reminisced after the game “The morning, you wake up and it’s just a normal day. And then as you go through the day, it’s crazy. You get a bunch of phone calls, you’re stressing out and then it’s all over as soon as you get the call.
“It’s really important [to be drafted by the Braves]. Especially when you get to come into an organization such as ours. You know if you do well you’re going to move, but there’s also a lot of talent around you to help you and support you and help you grow as a player.”
He made a quick impression with his power tool, hitting three home runs in his first ten games as a pro in Danville. The power tool is for real, he’s proven that over the years. He’s a bit of a free swinger, but doesn’t have a strikeout problem by any means. “That’s who I am as a player,” Jenista said of his time in Danville. “I’m going to swing the bat. I got into some good ones down there.”
Jenista is a hulking presence. He’s listed at 6-4, 210 but may be an inch bigger and a little heavier in muscle. Despite his big frame, he has proven that he is not all slugger and has a good feel for the strike zone. He gets way back in the box, his toe touching the corner of the box on the left-hand side. He has a nice approach, knees slightly bent, hands shoulder/flap high, relatively close to the body with a slight curl over the shoulder. The hands are twirling as he awaits his pitch, and with a defined, slightly inward step, he unloads his fluid swing through the zone.
He started things off with a bang, drilling triple of the right center wall. He had a bit of an upper cut to it, just getting under it or else that ball would have still been traveling. It made a beautiful sound, and as you can see, he showed some nice speed for a big man, especially when he turned it on rounding second for third (he did have 12 stolen bases this past season, so the speed is for real as well).
“I got the first one,” Jenista said after his debut. “The first one’s the hardest at each level, so glad I got it over with tonight. It was a 3-1 count. Obviously I’m not going to let a heater go by. I put a good swing on it and glad it fell.”
The Intimidators put the shift on Jenista all night. He pulled his triple to right center, but shot two other liners up the middle, neither falling for a hit. Jenista just missed beating the shift in his third at bat on a sharply hit grounder that would have been extra bases, but drifted foul down the third base line. He struck out in his final at bat of the night. He seems to have more of the inside-out swing when the ball comes in at him, but that may have been the angle.
The big question mark following Jenista would be where he fits in defensively. He’s listed as an infielder on the Rome Braves roster, from having first base experience, but got his first start in right field. A one-time centerfielder, he should have the bat and arm to profile permanently in the corner, perhaps being able to give days off to Freddie Freeman one day at the big league level as well.
Jenista fielded everything that came his way, nothing too out of the ordinary expect a quick liner that he had little trouble with early on. The transition thus far seems to be relatively easy.
“I feel fine. When you play center, you can play all of them. I’m lucky enough to be out there right now with Drew [Waters]. He’s a stud. It’s always nice knowing you’re centerfielder is going to be able to go get it especially when you’re not used to the ballpark.”
The 21-year-old will likely be a fast mover, but for now, he’s batting in the heart of the lineup of the playoff-bound Rome Braves. Not a bad situation to walk into less than a month after getting drafted.
“You love walking into a team that’s already heading to the postseason. You know you’re getting a chance to play for something. I think that’s the biggest thing, the most important thing for player.”