What To Expect: Ozzie Albies
After they overachieved in the first half, the Braves have lost five in a row and are 6-11 since the All-Star break. To that end, they are turning toward 2018. That pivot began today, with righthander Lucas Sims making his first big league start and Midseason No. 3 prospect Ozzie Albies getting called up.
Albies, who ranked No. 25 on the BA Midseason Top 100, has primarily played second base at Triple-A Gwinnett this season but can also play shortstop. With Brandon Phillips still on the roster and Dansby Swanson back in the minors, Albies is in position to see time at short as well as second in Atlanta.
Albies only turned 20 this year and began the season as the youngest player in the International League. After struggling in his first shot at Triple-A in 2016, the switch-hitting Curacao native has shown more impact with his bat the second time around, although with eyebrow-raising splits. He hit .370/.390/.580 batting righthanded and .257/.312/.395 batting lefthanded. Still, he showed improved pop despite his 5-foot-9, 160 pound frame with 21 doubles, eight triples and a career-high nine home runs. He also uses his plus speed well, stealing 21 bases in 23 tries this year and 102 out of 130 in his career. On defense, Albies has the first-step quickness, arm strength and baseball IQ to be at least an above-average defender at both second and short.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
The Braves have Phillips, Sean Rodriguez, Johan Camargo and Micah Johnson all playing in the middle infield currently, but presumably Albies is coming up and will receive the bulk of playing time. Albies should give the Braves above-average defense and speed at the least, but there is very likely going to be an adjustment period with the bat, particularly when facing righthanders.