Ozhaino Albies: Could He Make Andrelton Simmons Expendable?


Everyone knows about Andrelton Simmons with his cat-like reflexes and the bazooka attached to his right shoulder.

The man is more reminiscent of a character from the Matrix as he inexplicably maneuvers himself in space to get the out. Advanced defensive metrics have put Simmons as the most elite defensive shortstop since headache inducing statistics that measure that sort of thing have been tracked.

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On top of this, the Atlanta Braves signed him to an incredibly reasonable 7-year, $58 million contract back before the 2014 season, making him controllable through 2020. He would seem a likely candidate be a part of a long-term plan for contention. What if however, he became expendable before that?

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  • There, did my radical, hypothetical question get you all riled up and ready to keep reading? Good. Because while I am not suggesting Andrelton will be traded or even be on the block anytime soon, I am saying the possibility exists.

    Meet baseball’s potential second Wizard of Oz: Ozhaino Albies. The 18-year-old shortstop prospect out of Curaçao is not a stranger to scouts or those who closely follow MLB pipelines; however his name remains relatively unknown to the more casual of fans. At a measly 5’9” and 150 lbs, Ozzie does not intimidate opposing pitchers, but his stat line should.

    Through 98 games with Rome, Ozhaino Albies has hit an impressive .310/.368/.404/.771. This goes along with 122 hits, 29 stolen bases, and a 0.64 BB/K rate (36/56). In his career in the minors, he has a 0.81 BB/K rate and a .328/.395/.417/.812. slash line combined with 51 stolen bases.

    Ozhaino Albies is a switch hitter with excellent speed and decent gap power. His contact rates are very reminiscent of Andrelton Simmons. Albies adds a better walk rate, and his glove work is nothing to be ignored. Scouts have given him a 50/60 rating on his fielding, and a 60/60 rating on his arm.

    Jul 12, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; World Team infielder Ozhaino Albies hits during batting practice before the All Star Futures Game with the U.S. Team at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    The man can pick it at shortstop and possesses the athleticism to continue defending at a plus level, and some scouts believe he can become elite. The obvious requirement for anyone put pressure on Simmons is above average defense, and Ozhaino Albies has that in plenty.

    Let’s take a breath and recap. Ozhaino Albies is a young prospect with worlds of potential. If he continues on his trajectory, the best and most familiar comparison that I can come up with is Rafael Furcal, albeit with slightly more speed and contact, and a weaker arm.  9 out of 10 semi-sane Braves fans, when looking at the numbers and the all-around contributions, would choose Furcal in his early years over Andrelton now.

    The current projected arrival time for Ozhaino Albies is 2018. A lot has to happen between now and then for him to round into the player so many believe he could be and of course, there is no guarantee he will sustain this success. But if he does round into form, he will at the very least force Andrelton to hit in order to stick around. At the very best he can emerge as a young top of the order hitter and premier defender for years to come.

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    Andrelton Simmons has actually shown promise at the plate this year. He will probably never again approach the 17 homers of 2013, but he has made great strides in his consistency and has improved on his walk rate. If Simmons can put together anything of an offensive repertoire, then he would make for a great trade piece in future years, or the Braves could simply keep him and Albies could be moved to 2B, making a Simmons/Albies middle infield potentially the best in baseball.

    The majority of scouts project Ozhaino Albies to stick at shortstop, as he is simply too good and too valuable there to be moved anywhere else.  Of course, it could be a temporary move, and in 2020 when Simmons becomes a free agent, Albies can always slide on over to SS (and he will only be 23).

    Next: Braves Lose 10th Straight as Nats Walkoff 5-2

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