Braves’ Ozzie Albies, Lucas Sims named Triple-A All-Stars
One of the Braves’ perceived future center pieces, Ozzie Albies has been named a Triple-A All-Star, and he’s joined by a Gwinnett teammate that could be next in line to challenge for a rotation spot in Atlanta.
Albies, Atlanta’s No. 1 prospect per MLB.com, and right-handed pitcher Lucas Sims were among the 17 players picked to represent the International League on Tacoma, Wash., on July 12.
Albies, 20, is hitting .271/.321/.433 with 12 doubles, seven triples and six home runs and has driven in 31 runs, while also swiping 18 bases. Those steals and triples rank second in the IL and he’s also fourth with 291 at-bats.
In his second season in Gwinnett, Albies is now a two-time All-Star as he was also picked for the 2015 Class-A South Atlantic League team in Rome.
Expected to take over at second base and team with shortstop Dansby Swanson as the Braves’ double-play combination for years to come, Albies continue to play at a high level while current Atlanta 2B Brandon Phillips does the same (.300/.343/.452 with seven homers and 28 RBI).
— Gwinnett Braves (@GwinnettBraves) June 29, 2017
Phillips, though, is on an expiring contract, and general manager John Coppolella has said of the waiting game for Albies’ arrival “No one is going to block Ozzie Albies … when he’s ready, he’ll get an opportunity.”
For Sims, 23, this is his first All-Star nod, and with Gwinnett teammate Sean Newcomb already in the Braves’ rotation, the Braves’ first-round draft pick in 2012 could be closing in on his MLB debut.
That’s a testament to the strides he’s made the past year at the Triple-A level.
On May 31 of last season, the 23-year-old had a 7.56 ERA after making 11 appearances with 10 starts at Triple-A and 37 walks to go with his 58 strikeouts, and was demoted to Double-A Mississippi.
Now, he’s leading the IL in strikeouts (92) in going 6-3 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts. Those outings are tied for the league lead and Sims is also second in strikeouts per nine innings (9.63), third in innings pitched (86) and has the fifth-lowest batting average against (.229).
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.