Albies bringing youth, enthusisam to Futures game


Braves prospects who were selected to the Futures Game

Year; Name; Pos.; Minor league team; Age; Major league debut

1999; Rafael Furcal; SS; Macon (Low Single-A); 21; 2000

2000; Marcus Giles; 2B; Greenville (Double-A); 22; 2001

; Travis Wilson; 2B; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 22; —

2001; Wilson Betemit; SS; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 19; 2001

2002; Adam Wainwright; RHP; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 20; 2005

; Brett Evert; RHP; Greenville (Double-A); 21; —

2003; Adam LaRoche; 1B; Richmond (Triple-A); 23; 2004

2004; Andy Marte; 3B; Greenville (Double-A); 20; 2005

; Jose Capellan; RHP; Greenville (Double-A); 23; 2004

2005; Anthony Lerew; RHP; Mississippi (Double-A); 22; 2005

; Jeff Francoeur; OF; Mississippi (Double-A); 21; 2005

2006; Yunel Escobar; SS; Mississippi (Double-A); 23; 2007

2007; Elvis Andrus; SS; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 18; 2009

2008; Gorkys Hernandez; OF; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 20; 2012

2009; Jason Heyward; OF; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 19; 2010

2010; Mike Minor; LHP; Mississippi (Double-A); 22; 2010

; Julio Teheran; RHP; Myrtle Beach (Single-A); 19; 2011

2011; Julio Teheran; RHP; Gwinnett (Triple-A); 20; 2011

; Arodys Vizcaino; RHP; Mississippi (Double-A); 20; 2011

2012; Christian Bethancourt; C; Mississippi (Double-A); 20; 2013

2013; Christian Bethancourt; C; Mississippi (Double-A); 21; 2013

When Braves’ 18-year-old minor league shortstop Ozhaino Albies became the youngest player named to the Sunday’s Futures game in Cincinnati, he might have been more surprised than anyone.

“Ozzie” had already been chosen to play in the South Atlantic League All-Star game, so he wasn’t exactly buying it when his personal trainer back in Curacao started calling and texting him to congratulate him on making the Futures game shortly thereafter.

“I said, ‘How do you know?’” Albies said. “He told me he saw it on Twitter.”

Soon enough Albies’ Rome Braves manager Randy Ingle and his teammates started congratulating him, too, and Albies started to believe it.

“I’m still surprised,” Albies said this week. “I’m still excited. I’m so happy. I play hard every day for my team and I didn’t even think about that. When they told me I was in the All-Star game for the South Atlantic League I was excited for that, too. After that day they told me, ‘You’ve been selected to the Futures game also,’ I was like, ‘What?!’ I was so surprised. I was like no way. I was so excited. I can’t wait to play.”

Albies watched his fellow countryman and friend Jurickson Profar play in the Futures game in 2011 and 2012. Profar, a prospect for the Texas Rangers, homered in the first inning of the 2012 game.

Not only is Albies the youngest player on either roster, the U.S. or the World team, he’s the youngest Brave ever to make the minor leagues’ highest profile All-Star game since its inception in 1999. Shortstop Elvis Andrus, a former Braves prospect now with the Rangers, was named to the World team as an 18-year-old in 2007, but he turned 19 a month later. Albies doesn’t turn 19 until January.

“It means a lot for me to be young there and show what I got,” said Albies, who invited his mother to fly to Cincinnati from Curacao.

What he’s got is a hot bat. Through the first 79 games entering Friday, Albies was leading the South Atlantic League with a .332 batting average. He also has 15 doubles, eight triples and 25 stolen bases.

Albies has done nothing but hit since he joined the Braves organization. He hit .381 for 19 games last year in the Gulf Coast League and .356 in Danville after his promotion to the Appalachian League, a more advanced rookie ball level. He would have led the Appalachian League if he he’d had enough at-bats to qualify.

At the rate he’s going Albies won’t be in Rome for much longer. Making the Futures game generally means you’re on the fast track anyway. Of the 20 Braves prospects to be selected to the Futures game, 14 of them made their major league debut later that same season or the following year. Even a youngster like Andrus, who made the Futures Game while playing in High-A Myrtle Beach as an 18-year-old in 2007, was in the major leagues two years later after the Braves traded him to the Rangers.

“The guy has a big upside,” Braves director of player personnel Dave Trembley said of Albies. “It’s nice that he’s going to get that exposure (in the Futures game). It’s well deserved. He’s one of younger players in the league. He’s going to keep getting better and better. He’s very mature, got a lot of talent, plays with enthusiasm. He is going to be a very good major league player. It’s nice for him and it’s really nice for our organization to have him.”