Editors Note: As we start to organize our notes for our Team Top 10 lists (starting Oct. 2nd), we thought we would release some of the more impressive players that our scouts have seen live over the spring and summer. Next in line: Atlanta Braves shortstop, Ozzie Albies.
Ozzie Albies (SS)
With the much needed overhaul of the Braves farm system, one of the few holdouts from the Frank Wren regime is Ozzie Albies; who just happens to sit on the top of the Braves list.
Albies had his breakout in 2014, posting an impressive .429 on-base percentage with 15 stolen bases in 57 games in the GCL and Appy League. In fact, he was our 2016 emerging prospect where we wrote the following: If you’re looking for a kid that nobody has heard of for your Dynasty League, Ozhaino Albies fits the bill. After making it on our Top 50 mid-season prospect list, Albies is starting to become a household name in prospect circles.
He continued to play very well in his full season assignment to Rome slashing .312/.370/.406 in 98 games before breaking his hand in early August. He made excellent contact (86%) while showing a very good understanding of the strike zone that led to 36 walks in 439 plate appearances. He did all of this at the ripe age of 18-years-old, making him the youngest player in the Sally League.
Scouting Report: We quote the age of players relative to their level quite often in our capsules. Why? Two reasons: First, younger players not only have a longer runway for development but also are usually more open to coaching than older players. There are fewer habits to be broken as their mind-muscle repetition has not been established. Secondly and more importantly, they get to play against older and more experienced competition. Pitchers have better control of their arsenal and fielders get to more balls. In order to be successful, the player has to accelerate his learning curve and that only helps him long-term.
As the youngest player in the Appy League, Albies has done more than hold his own; he has excelled. He’s blessed with great hand-eye-coordination and barrel control with a chance for a plus hit tool at the highest level. Currently there is no power and based on his size and swing mechanics, it’s difficult to put anything higher than a future 20-grade power assessment on him.
Albies does have double-plus speed and that showed up on the base paths where he stole 29 of 37 bases. His instincts are good but will improve as he learns to read pitchers better.
Defensively, he has the athleticism and arm strength to stay at shortstop but assuming he stays in the Atlanta organization, is blocked at the major league level with arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game. Fortunately, it’s a decision that is three years away.
Fantasy Impact: Albies is a Top 50 prospect in the game but from a fantasy standpoint, there’s two red flags. One is the lack of power; and therefore his fantasy value will come strictly from his ability to hit and steal bases. While there is 40 stolen base upside with a .300 batting average, speed fades; and as fantasy owners have learned from Elvis Andurs, when it does, it’s not good. Secondly, if the Braves move him to center field or second base, his value will take a hit. While we love Albies, Dynasty League owners might want to consider selling high as many baseball publications will over value him, providing an interesting market for the 18-year-older in Dynasty Leagues.