Minutes after Braves prospect Ozzie Albies hit a home run for his first major league hit Thursday in the ninth inning against the Dodgers, a flood of contratulatory messages began to arrive via text, email, phone calls and social media.
One in particular stood out for the 20-year-old Curacao native.
“When I came to my locker I saw Andruw Jones’ congrats on my Instagram,” Albies said, smiling. “That was pretty awesome.”
Jones, the retired 10-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder for the Braves, is a legendary figure in Curacao, the tiny island nation that has produced 15 major leaguers including five who for the Braves: Jones, Andrelton Simmons, Jair Jurrjens, Randall Simon, and now Albies, the youngest current player in the majors and first big-leaguer born in 1997.
But he’s not the youngest Curacao native to debut in the big leagues. Jones was 19 when he debuted in August 1996.
There were dozens of other messages or calls for Albies including one from his Triple-A Gwinnett roommate Ronald Acuna, the 19-year-old Braves uber-prospect outfielder, and from current Braves Ender Inciarte and rookie Johan Camargo, whose locker stalls are close enough that they barely would’ve need to raise their voices to congratulate him without walking across the clubhouse.
And they and the rest of the Braves did congratulate Albies when he entered the dugout after his dream-like run around the bases. But getting the personal electronic messages and calls later Thurday on top of the group scene was special for the 5-foot-8 second baseman.
“Ender Inciarte, Johan Camargo, Ronald Acuna, all those guys called me,” he said. “ My family called me. Friends back home.”
When Albies woke Friday, it still seemed a bit surreal that he hit a home run – and that it was his first major league hit. It came in his third game, eighth at-bat and 11th plate appearance. A three-run homer in the Braves’ 7-4 series-finale loss the powerful Dodgers.
He was the first Brave to homer for his first MLB hit since Evan Gattis on April 3, 2013.
“I felt just awesome,” Albies said of his thoughts upon waking Friday. “Like, did I do that? It just feels great. I talked to my agent about it, we were talking at breakfast and just smiling. He was telling me to keep it going.”