Braves promote elite infield prospect Ozzie Albies to majors

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Consensus top-50 prospect Ozzie Albies is set to make his major-league debut with the Atlanta Braves.

The 5-foot-9 middle infielder will make his long-awaited debut after slashing .285/.330/.440 with 38 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases with Triple-A Gwinnett this season as one of the youngest players in the International League. Now in his age-20 campaign, the switch-hitting Albies has ranked as one of baseball’s top prospects for the past two years.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m ready for it,” Albies said of the promotion when he arrived at SunTrust Park. “I was always ready for it.”

Albies will debut at second base on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The move intensifies the attention on the team’s infield logjam with Freddie Freeman, Matt Adams, Brandon Phillips, Johan Camargo and Sean Rodriguez. Specifically, Phillips, a 36-year-old pending free agent, is considered a trade candidate even after the passage of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

With the team recently demoting shortstop and fellow top prospect Dansby Swanson due to playing time, Albies’ promotion underscores the organization’s apparent willingness to turn its attention to the 2018 season and beyond — meaning the Curacao native will serve as the everyday starting second baseman upon arrival. As Braves manager Brian Snitker said, “We need to play him.”

Snitker also mentioned Phillips could see time at third base moving forward.

After signing as an international free agent in 2013, Albies posted a .446 on-base percentage in rookie ball and dominated at the Single-A and Double-A levels before being named a 2016 Futures Game participant. This season, even as he worked his way back from a season-ending elbow fracture suffered during the Mississippi Braves’ playoff run and tinkered with his swing under the guidance of switch-hitting savant Chipper Jones, he was tabbed as a Triple-A All-Star.

Now, he’s the youngest player in the majors.

Albies, who originally signed with the Braves due to their connection to fellow Curacao products Andruw Jones and Andrelton Simmons, will join a host of top prospects to debut with the Braves since the start of the franchise’s rebuild after the 2014 season, following the likes of Swanson, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb.

At the time of the call-up, the Braves sit 15 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East and 11 games back in the NL wildcard race.