Ozhaino Albies: Atlanta Braves’ Blue-Chip Prospect

Ozhaino Albies looks to be the middle infielder of the future for the Atlanta Braves, especially after the departure of Jose Peraza this past season.

In 2013, the Atlanta Braves signed Ozhaino Albies as an international free agent at the ripe age of 16 years old. Like Braves’ infielder Andrelton Simmons, Albies is also from Curacao. After being signed in the summer of 2013, Albies made his professional debut the following season for the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Braves, where he hit the ground running.

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With the GCL Braves, Ozhaino Albies impressed during his short stint on the team, posting a stellar slash-line of .381/.481/.429. Albies hits for contact and rarely strikes out, walking 11 times against six strikeouts at his first professional stop. Along with Albies’ advanced eye for the strike zone, he possesses plus-speed on the base paths. During his time with the GCL Braves, Albies stole seven bases in just 19 games. The Atlanta Braves realized his advanced skill set; thus, the team quickly promoted him to Danville.

Ozhaino Albies finished out his 2014 season with the Danville Braves, logging 38 games as the team’s shortstop. Albies made the transition to Danville without any struggles. He posted a .356/.428/.452 slash-line, and he increased his slugging with the promotion. As a member of the Danville Braves, Albies recorded his first professional home run, his only on the season. Albies continued to flash his speed, stealing 15 bases, while being caught three times. 

In Albies’ first professional season, split between GCL and Danville, he impressed the Atlanta Braves and scouts alike. Moreover, following the 2014 season, Keith Law rated Ozhaino Albies as a top-100 prospect, due to his four-tool skill set he brings to the table. Outside of hitting for power, Albies possesses all the other tools scouts look for in a player – running speed, hitting for average, arm strength, and fielding. Albies finished the 2014 season with a .364 batting average, more walks than strikeouts, and 22 steals.

Entering the 2015 season, Keith Law ranked Ozhaino Albies as the Atlanta Braves’ third best prospect (#66 0verall), behind Jose Peraza (#24) and Mike Foltynewicz (#47). Law believes that Albies has a high floor despite being only 18 years old. Due to Albies’ strong 2014 campaign, the Braves decided to start him out at Single-A Rome in 2015.

At the Single-A level, Ozhaino Albies was three and half years younger than the competition, but that did not stop him from putting up solid numbers. In 98 games with the Rome Braves, Albies hit a solid .310, with a .368 OBP. For the first time in his career, Albies struck out more times than he walked; however, 36 walks against 56 strikeouts is still superb. Also, he registered 29 steals in 2015, flashing his speed. Despite Ozhaino Albies strong 2015 campaign, a right-thumb fracture ended his season in August. 

In 2015, Albies earned a Futures Game selection, the first of his career. Also, MLB Pipeline ranked Ozhaino Albies as the Atlanta Braves’ best prospect after the 2015 season and number 30 on their top-100 prospect list. With Albies’ injury happening in August, the young prospect has plenty of time to recover for next season. It remains to be seen where Albies opens the 2016 season, but both Single-A Rome and Double-A Mississippi seem like viable options.

The Atlanta Braves instilled a lot of faith in the 18-year old by trading away Jose Peraza this season. Look for Ozhaino Albies to have another strong season in 2016. Hopefully, Albies continues to develop as a gap-to-gap hitter with a high batting average and OBP. No one doubts Albies’ abilities, but Braves’ fans must wait a couple more seasons before he is ready for Atlanta.