Minimized leg kick paying off for Albies

Minimized leg kick paying off for Albies

MIAMI -- While establishing himself as one of the top overall prospects, Ozzie Albies was reluctant to make the mechanical adjustments coaches told him he'd eventually need to make. But since arriving at the Major League level, the Braves' second baseman has reaped the benefits of willingly making what he considers to be a minor change.

Though a third-inning single accounted for his only hit during Saturday night's 10-2 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park, Albies certainly has reason to be encouraged by the results he has generated since he committed himself to remaining consistent with both his mechanics and approach.

"I'm so happy about what I've been doing, and I'm going to stick with it for the rest of my life," Albies said.

Albies enters Sunday's season finale hitting .288 with a .357 on-base percentage and a .458 slugging percentage. The numbers the 20-year-old phenom has produced through his first 56 games have legitimized his standing as one of's top 20 overall prospects when he made his Aug. 1 big league debut.

Albies' solo homer

More important, these numbers validate the progress Albies has made since he finished Aug. 18 with a .179/.230/.339 slash line through his first 16 games. Over the past six weeks, the energetic switch-hitter has minimized the leg kick that had created concerns about his capability from the left side of the plate and allowed him to stick with the same plan.

"He still has some work to do," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's far from a finished product. But if you see the tools and skills, you know this guy could be special."

Snitker was cognizant of the need to remain patient with Albies, who produced a .970 OPS against left-handed pitchers and a .707 OPS against right-handers during his time with Triple-A Gwinnett this year. His struggles from the left side of the plate were a product of what was an exaggerated leg kick and the early-season reluctance he experienced while distancing himself from the fractured right elbow sustained last September.

Since finding comfort with the moderated leg kick hitting coach Kevin Seitzer helped him develop, Albies has shown he has the capability to become one of the game's most exciting players. Actor Charlie Sheen expressed his admiration for the young Curacao native's abilities via Twitter earlier this week.

Albies, who was born in 1997 and didn't come to the United States until 2014, said he was not familiar with the popular actor.

But it wasn't necessarily surprising to learn Albies has already caught the attention of baseball fans around the United States. He has hit .327 with seven doubles, four triples and four home runs over the 40 games played dating back to Aug. 19.

"As long as I've played with him, he's always been that little guy who can swing it pretty good," Braves rookie pitcher Lucas Sims said. "The way he scuffled there at the beginning and then was able to make the adjustments that have allowed him to hit the ball all over the place speaks volumes about the kind of kid he is and the special talent he is."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.