LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After spending the past few weeks patiently undergoing the final stages of rehab for his freak elbow fracture, highly regarded Braves prospect Ozzie Albies is now anxious to make his Grapefruit League debut, possibly early next week.
With Brandon Phillips set to serve as their second baseman, the Braves really have no reason to rush Albies, who is likely at least a few months away from being Major League ready. But there is still a chance the 20-year-old prospect could begin playing in Spring Training games as early as March 7, when the Braves are scheduled to play the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.
"I honestly feel really good," Albies said. "I'm doing all of my baseball activities. I'm not throwing 100 percent, I'm more like 80-85 percent. Things are going well. I'm not feeling rushed. I'm just waiting, and whenever it's time to play in the games, I should be 100 percent."
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Albies, who ranks as MLBPipeline.com's No. 10 overall prospect, might have been projected to enter this season as Atlanta's second baseman had he not fractured his elbow during a check swing while playing for Double-A Mississippi in a Southern League playoff game on Sept. 7.
Initially, there was some concern about how the freak injury might mentally affect Albies once he began participating in baseball activities again. But the energetic and eager youngster has not been hesitant since he was cleared to begin swinging a bat in January.
"I didn't even think about it," Albies said with his confident smile. "I just let it go."
Albies batted .321, recorded 21 stolen bases (30 attempts) and compiled a .858 OPS while tallying 371 plate appearances over two stints for Mississippi this past year. In the 247 plate appearances he tallied for Triple-A Gwinnett between April 30 and June 28, he hit .248 with a .659 OPS.
Accounting for the numbers produced at Triple-A, Albies might have benefited from more development time even if he had not suffered the injury. But, health permitting, there is certainly a chance he'll be making his big league debut at some point this year.
"I think about it sometimes, but I just try to play my game and do what I have to do to make the team," Albies said. "Hopefully I can stay healthy and everything goes right."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.