Three very exciting prospects making their way through the South Atlantic League in 2015 are shortstops: Ozhaino Albies, Jorge Mateo and Javier Guerra.
I've gotten at least two looks at each and in the next week or so I'll be doing a piece on each player, starting today with Ozhaino Albies
Ozhaino (Ozzie) Albies signed by the Atlanta Braves out of Curacao in 2013 for $350,000. He came stateside in 2014 and had a monster year at two levels of rookie ball finishing .364/.446/.444. He's having a fantastic 2015 as well with a .323/.375/.412, as an 18 year old. Albies is listed at 5'9" 150 LB's. That looked accurate. I think he could put on 15 lb's of muscle without losing a step.
Offensively, a switch hitter, I've only seen Albies bat left handed. He uses a closed stance and his bat stays in motion pre-pitch. He lets the ball travel deep and he really whips the bat through the zone. He consistently shoots the ball to left side with authority. Hes an aggressive hitter with excellent bat control. I wouldn't expect either his walks or strikeouts to exceed 15%. I've seen nine AB's to this point and he hit line drives or sharp grounders to the left side every time. With his bat speed and contact rate I think he's already a 60 hitter, and has double plus potential.
He has gap power right now I don't see a lot of over the fence power in his future especially when you factor in his approach. If he consistently started turning on inside fastballs maybe he could approach double digit home runs. That 15+ pounds of muscle would certainly help in that regard. 35 power currently.
Defensively Albies makes all of the routine plays and has plenty of range for the position. I've seen him get a ball in the 5-6 hole. He has a fringe arm though, probably a better fit at 2nd Base. The bat would certainly play there too. 55 glove, 45 arm.
Albies has plus speed and he shows really good instincts on the bases. I watched him go first to third on a single to left center that most players would have stopped at second on, and he beat the throw easily. I was hoping to see a stolen base attempt but no luck yet. 60 speed
Albies is certainly one of the more exciting prospects I've seen this year, and he has the potential to be an all star middle infielder at the highest level, and maybe win a batting title.
It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Braves are with moving Albies up. Despite being just 18 years old, I was expecting to hear of an Albies promotion at the close of the first half.
Jorge Mateo is next. I'll write him up in a couple of days.