Ozzie Albies joins Braves clubhouse to much fanfare

On Tuesday, Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies became the first player born in 1997 to reach the major leagues.

The Braves’ No. 2 prospect, Albies received the much-anticipated callup prior to the team’s series opener against the Dodgers at SunTrust Park.

“When they told me, I started jumping around the house, screaming,” Albies said. “… I just forgot about everything and head here right away.”

Debuting at 20 years, 206 days old, Albies is the youngest player to play for the Braves since pitcher Julio Teheran in 2011 (20 years, 100 days). Wilson Betemit was the last position player to done a Braves uniform so young, debuting at 19-years-old in 2001.

“The kid’s been an All-Star,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “He’s done well every step of the way, no matter how old he’s been. And I know he’s always been a leader on all the teams he’s been on, even at a young age. In talking to the guys that have had him (on their team), he’s a very mature kid for his age. And he’s a talented, skilled guy.

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“We said for a long time, skills play up here. Talent does. And he’s an exciting little player with really good skills and it’s going to be fun to watch him play.”

Snitker said Albies will play every day. The infield’s been adjusted accordingly: He’s talked to Brandon Phillips about moving to third. Freddie Freeman will shift back to first full-time. Matt Adams was slotted in left field Tuesday, and his situation is fluid.

Albies carpooled to the park with fellow rookie infielder Johan Camargo. Camargo, who played with Albies in Triple-A, has been a frequent contact inside the big-league clubhouse. Albies talked with him every day, rooting him on and picking his mind about the majors.

“I called him (Camargo),” Albies said. “He didn’t know yet. And he’s like, ‘What happened, what happened?’ So I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m getting called up.’ And he starts screaming into the phone.”

In 97 games in Gwinnett this season, Albies hit .285 with a .330 OBP, 21 doubles and nine homers. Since returning from a left foot contusion on June 13, he hit .312 with six homers in 43 games.

He stole 21 bases in 23 attempts (fifth most in the International League), adding a speed element otherwise lacking on the major league club. His eight triples led the league and his 117 hits tied him atop the leaderboard.

It didn’t take long for Albies’ phone to blow up with ticket requests. Albies grew up a Braves fan, watching games with his grandfather, who he said is looking down on him and smiling.

Albies is the 15th Curacao native to play in the majors and the fifth to play for Atlanta, joining Andruw Jones, Andrelton Simmons, Randall Simon and Jair Jurrjens.

Initially a shortstop, the Braves moved Albies to second base to complete what they envisioned as an eventual Albies-Dansby Swanson infield duo. Swanson was demoted to Gwinnett last week, mired in a season-long sophomore slump.

Among Albies’ closest friends is the lone Braves prospect ranked ahead of him: outfielder Ronald Acuna. Albies became a mentor for the 19-year-old, who may soon dethrone Albies as the youngest major leaguer.

“He was like ‘Oh, so you’re going to leave me now?’” Albies said. “I told him I’m going to pay someone to babysit him, watch him for me.”

Albies received a warm welcome. Braves reliever Jason Motte gave him a long hug, telling him it’s great to see him again. Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, a fellow Curacaoan, embraced Albies on the field before the game.

“They (veterans) tell me just to enjoy it,” Albies said. “Enjoy it, smile and just do what you’ve been doing always. Keep your head up.”

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