Ozzie Albies is not your typical top prospect.
I knew this from day one when he walked up to me, extended his hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Ozzie.” Now that might seem like something minor to you, but to me it was a big deal.READ MORE: DOH-Pinellas Partners With Not My Son To Provide COVID-19 Vaccinations and Food Vouchers
In my eight years of working in the Braves system at Gwinnett, I can name on one hand how many players have introduced themselves first. But this time, it was a kid who needed no introduction.
We all know who Ozzie Albies is. Especially since Atlanta is off to a horrendous season. Braves’ fans are clamoring for Albies and Dansby Swanson to arrive at Turner Field and show off the future.
Albies can sneak up on you. Literally. He is only 5’ 9” and 160 pounds. Oh, he is also 19 years of age. But don’t let his size and age fool you; the young man has quite a lot of “pop” in his bat.
But he has started slowly, through 12 games with the G-Braves he is batting only .191 (9-of-47) with three doubles a homer and four RBIs. His first homer, hit on Tuesday, May 10th in Rochester, was a crushing drive to left. The shot went 409 feet.
“He’s a strong kid,” says Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker. “He’s just working his way into a new league (Triple-A International), and more at-bats and more games will help in his adjustment.”
Although not a surprise that Albies hit a homerun, the distance was surprising, especially since it was hit into the wind, blowing straight in from left field. “I had to look twice,” said Albies. “I couldn’t believe how far it went. I’m trying to put the barrel on the ball. Whatever happens, happens. I just try to stay through it.”
Albies was leading the Double-A Southern League in batting when he was promoted to Gwinnett on April 30th. He was hitting .369 with five doubles, two triples, a homer, 13 runs and 7 RBIs.READ MORE: Pasco County Drug Dealer Sentenced to Life Imprisonment
“It was something I didn’t expect (the call-up),” said Albies. “But I’m here, going to just do my thing and it’s the same game. I just need to be consistent.”
On the slow start in Triple-A, Albies shrugs it off. “I’ve made adjustments. I started out cold, but hit some balls right at people. So, I’m just going to be doing the same until I find a hole.”
Albies had a banner year in Class A Rome in 2015, but it was a year cut short by a fractured thumb. He batted .310 in 98 games with 21 doubles, eight triples and 37 RBIs. He also swiped 29 bases and culled a .368 On Base Percentage.
“I still wanted to play at least seven more games that year,” said Albies. “But they told me I was done for the year.”
And that’s as expected. Why would the Braves front office risk further injury to a guy they hope to be one of the mainstays of their infield of the future? Confidence was so high in Albies last season that the Braves were willing to send Jose Peraza— at that time their top prospect — packing in the massive trade with the Dodgers on July 30.
Now enter Swanson. The former Vanderbilt star picked up in the theft of the Diamondbacks in December along with pitcher Aaron Blair and outfielder Ender Inciarte. Swanson was moved from Class-A Carolina to Mississippi the same time Albies made the move to Gwinnett. The Braves want both to be in their future infield, which means someone will have to move off of shortstop.
If I were a betting man, I would bet Albies ends up making the move to second. A move that he has no problem making. But that should not surprise, seeing how likable and mature he is; all this in a 5’ 9”, 19-year-old Curacao-born switch-hitter.
And speaking of Curacao, Albies is very close to his family. His father recently passed away, but during the season he talks to his mom every day. “I’m here to make my mom and by brother happy.”MORE NEWS: Florida Man Sentenced For Trafficking Engangered Species And Illegally Possessing Firearms
It’s a good bet that within the next year, Ozzie Albies will make plenty of Braves fans happy as well.