I’m calling it now: the Braves have suffered enough this year. On Wednesday night, top prospect Ozzie Albies left a playoff game with Double-A Mississippi after sustaining a fractured olecranon in his right elbow. The 19-year-old will undergo surgery next week and be sidelined through the offseason, with a potential return date in January.
It’s not the first time the Braves have seen a player sidelined with a non-ligament elbow injury. In 2016, they lost reliever Daniel Winkler to a fractured elbow during the second week of the season; in 2014, right-hander Gavin Floyd succumbed to the 60-day disabled list halfway through the season with an olecranon fracture in his throwing arm. Unlike Albies, who has no history of arm or elbow issues, the olecranon injury came on the heels of Floyd’s first Tommy John surgery, and he didn’t see another major league mound until September 2015 during a seven-game stint with the Indians.
Albies’ prognosis looks more promising, but losing a prospect to injury, even at the tail end of a non-contending season, is still a blow for the Braves. They’re currently in the middle of a full-scale rebuild, one that has leaned on contributions from rookies like Dansby Swanson and league-leading hitters like Freddie Freeman. Albies, who ranked #29 overall among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects prior to the 2016 season and #14 in the midseason rankings, was expected to finish out the season in Double-A Mississippi before getting some extra reps in during the Arizona Fall League.
Prior to his injury, Albies was batting .321/.391/.467 through 82 games with Double-A Mississippi. He was called up for a brief stay in Triple-A Gwinnett, where he held a .248/.307/.351 slash line in 56 appearances. Barring complications in his recovery process, the second baseman should return to compete for a spot with the big league club in the spring, although it’s still unclear how much of a workload he’ll be expected to shoulder in 2017.