Braves’ Ozzie Albies in midst of surge, while still working on swing
ATLANTA — See Ozzie. See Ozzie run.
That was Braves manager Brian Snitker request last week for his 20-year-old second baseman, Ozzie Albies, who piled up 29 triples and 82 doubles over 390 minor league games, but over his first 14 MLB games had one double.
Albies obliged — more than once, and he’s doing it with a swing that continues to be worked on.
He delivered a three-bagger last Thursday against the Rockies, followed with a double Saturday vs. the Reds, then added a triple and another double in Sunday’s series finale. In Monday’s series-opening 6-5 loss to the Mariners, he nearly had an inside-the-park home run after Seattle center fielder slipped trying to play the hit to left-center and settled on a two-run triple.
“That’s kind of fun seeing his tools and everything he brings,” Snitker said. “He’s confident and learning and experiencing the major leagues.”
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Albies, batting .170 with a .550 OPS on Aug. 16, has slashed .389/.421/.833 since with those five extra-base hits. That includes three hits in his last seven at-bats against Cinncinnati with a walk and a .750 BABIP and he was 2 for 4 against the Mariners.
With that latest three-bagger against Seattle, only three players have had more triples in their first 19 games than Albies, the Reds’ Al Wickland (1913) and Boston Braves’ Red Worthington (1931), who had five each and Pirates’ Paul Waner, who had four in 1926.
“He’s an exciting little player,” Snitker said. “He’s got skills and can do a lot of things. He’s continuing to work and he realizes (he needs to work), which is a great thing.”
The switch-hitting Curacao native is continuing to make tweaks, especially from the left side — the side from which he suffered a broken olecranon bone at the tip of his right elbow last September — but has produced all three of his doubles and two triples in 53 at-bats from that vantage point. He’s slashed .208/.246/.340 there, compared to .200/.333/.800 from the right in just 10 chances, but that’s also where both of his home runs have come from.
“Right side I can do everything,” Albies said of the differences in him as a hitter from right to left. “From the left side, I jut try to hit line drives and let it go.”
Albies has been producing ground balls from both sides since his Aug. 1 call up — 40 percent from the right; 37.2 from the left — but that has increased to 50 percent overall in his last four games, allowing him to utilize that speed.
While he’s found some success, Albies is continuing to work on staying through the ball from the left side and hitting line drives. He was also under the tutelage of Chipper Jones while he was at Triple-A Gwinnett to recapture his left-handed swing, focusing on his balance. In 97 games at Triple-A, Albies hit .370/.390/.580 from the right side and .257/.312/.395 from the left.
“They’re addressing some issues, different things with video and batting practice,” Snitker said of the work with Albies and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. “Going into yesterday Seitz was real encouraging about some things. Oz has kind of bought in, so yeah, I like what I’m seeing.”
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.