ATLANTA -- Ozzie Albies was born three months after a 19-year-old phenom named Andruw Jones belted a home run in both of his first two career World Series at-bats. Now the highly regarded prospect will have the chance to be the latest Curacao native to excite Braves fans at a young age.
As the Braves enter this season's final two months focused on the future, they have turned to Albies, who was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett in time to make his Major League debut as Atlanta's second baseman in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to the Dodgers at SunTrust Park. The Braves also called up Lucas Sims to make his first big league start, while right-hander Akeel Morris and second baseman Micah Johnson were optioned to Gwinnett.
At 20 years, 206 days, Albies currently stands as the youngest player in MLB and the youngest to play for the Braves since Julio Teheran debuted at 20 years, 100 days in 2011. Albies is generously listed at 5-foot-9 and will also now have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who have proven there is a place in the game for the vertically challenged.
Albies went 0-for-2 with a walk and scored a run on Johan Camargo's two-run homer in the eighth inning.
Getting his call to the Majors on Tuesday afternoon fulfilled a childhood dream for Albies, who grew up watching the Braves with his grandfather, one of the countless Curacao natives whose fandom of the Braves was enriched as Jones played for Atlanta from 1996-2007.
"I started jumping in the house, screaming [when I got the call]," Albies said. "I was actually paying my rent and stuff, but then I just forgot about everything. I showered and headed over here right away."
Albies ranks as baseball's 19th-best prospect and the second-best prospect in the Braves' system according to MLBPipeline.com.
While now employing Albies as their everyday second baseman, the Braves are hopeful veteran Brandon Phillips will accept their request to occasionally play third base -- a position he has never previously played. At the same time, they will continue to attempt to deal the 36-year-old, whose market is further limited by a partial no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 12 different clubs.
Had Albies not fractured his elbow while taking a swing in a September 2016 postseason game for Double-A Mississippi, the Braves might have entered this season with him as their starting second baseman. Had they been willing to give him this assignment, they likely would not have traded for Phillips in February immediately after learning Sean Rodriguez needed shoulder surgery.
Albies hit .285 with a professional-high nine homers and a .771 OPS in 97 games with Gwinnett. The switch-hitting infielder produced a .970 OPS against left-handed pitchers and a .707 OPS against right-handers. His struggles from the left side of the plate were a product of the lingering concern he had for his elbow during the early portion of this season.
"He's an exciting little player with really good skills, and it's going to be fun to watch him play," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Albies has displayed the plate skills needed to succeed in the Majors at age 20. However, owners who grab the youngster off waivers will be doing so primarily to move up in their league's steals standings. With 102 swipes since the outset of '14 (including 21 on 23 attempts this season), Albies could rank among the National League leaders in stolen bases from this point forward. In fact, roto owners could make a major leap in the steals category by inserting Albies and fellow recent callup and Mets prospect Amed Rosario into their active lineups.
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.