Braves call up Ozzie Albies from Triple-A

The Braves have called up top infield prospect Ozzie Albies from Triple-A Gwinnett and will have him in uniform Tuesday night for a series opener against the Dodgers at SunTrust Park. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
The Braves have called up top infield prospect Ozzie Albies from Triple-A Gwinnett and will have him in uniform Tuesday night for a series opener against the Dodgers at SunTrust Park. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

The highly anticipated, long-awaited Ozzie Albies major league debut is about to happen.

The Braves called up their top middle-infield prospect from Triple-A Gwinnett and inserted him in the lineup at second base, batting seventh, for Tuesday night’s home-series opener against the Dodgers at SunTrust Park.

“I’m excited and I’m ready,” Albies said at his locker stall before batting practice.

The 20-year-old diminutive but dynamic switch-hitter from Curacaco was batting .285 with a .330 OBP, eight triples and nine home runs in 97 games for Gwinnett and had 21 stolen bases in 23 attempts. He’ll be the youngest player in the majors and have the distinction of being the first major leaguer born in 1997.

Albies came up in the Braves system as a shortstop but was moved to second base early in the 2016 season after the Braves decided that Dansby Swanson would play shortstop in their planned middle-infield duo of the future.

But Albies has shifted between the positions and continued to play some shortstop while primarily playing second base as the Braves keep their options open going forward.

Swanson was demoted to Triple-A last week after struggling in his second major league season.

Braves manager Brian Snitker plans to play Albies every day, or almost every day. They didn’t call him up to have him sit on the bench in August.

It’s unclear what the future holds for Braves veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips, who will get a chance to play some third base if he’s willing.

Albies would have had a chance to compete for the Braves’ opening-day second-base job if he hadn’t fractured an elbow while swinging during a Double-A postseason game last fall. The injury required surgery and forced him to rest and rehab for most of the offseason, which is why the Braves signed veteran Sean Rodriguez to open the season at second base.

When Rodriguez hurt his shoulder in a Jan. 28 car accident, the Braves scrambled and traded for Phillips just before spring training began. Phillips will be a free agent after the season.

Albies was rated as the No. 11 prospect in Baseball America’s preseason top 100 list. He has a .304 average, .365 on-base percentage and .790 OPS in 390 minor league games over four seasons, with 82 doubles, 29 triples, 16 home runs, 150 RBIs and 102 steals in 130 attempts.

He split the 2016 season between  Double-A and Triple-A and batted a combined .292 with 10 triples, six homers and 30 stolen bases. Albies’ postseason with Double-A Mississippi ended abruptly when he fractured his elbow while hitting a foul ball.

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