OZZIE ALBIES, 2B, BRAVES
What’s up: The Braves are all about the future. Only the woeful Phillies are keeping them from falling into the National League East basement. That would seem to be good news for the Rockies, a team with playoff aspirations. That’s because the Rockies host the Braves for four games beginning Monday and travel to Atlanta for a three-game set Aug. 25-27. But be careful what you wish for, because the Braves have some good young players, including Albies, who are beginning to have an impact.
Background: Albies, a 20-year-old switch-hitting rookie, is ranked as the No. 19 prospect in baseball by Mlbpipeline.com, and is ranked as baseball’s No. 2 second base prospect, behind only Yoan Moncada of the White Sox. Albies has speed, range in the infield and pop in his bat. Friday night’s game at St. Louis was just the ninth big-league game of Albies’ career, and his first-ever road game. He delivered a single in the second inning off Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright and then launched a threerun homer in the sixth.
Saunders’ take: I don’t think Atlanta tanked the way Houston did a few years ago, but it’s clear the Braves are in the middle of a giant scrape-andrebuild project. Yes, veterans such as Rockies killer Freddie Freeman and Brandon Phillips remain, but a youth movement is in full swing. Prospects Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Luiz Gohara and Kolby Allard have the makings of a strong rotation for the future. Fangraphs’ “stats-only” midseason prospects ranking had eight Braves players in the top 100, including 19-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, who was ranked No. 1 at the Triple-a level. Albies was ranked No. 2. The Braves still seem a long way from their glory years. Then again, the Astros peaked a year before many thought they would.