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We continue our rankings debate with a look at a young player whose draft stock seems to be rising by the day and could be a make-or-break selection in many drafts.

RotoBaller's expert writers have come up with our consensus rankings for mixed leagues, but that doesn't mean we agreed on everything. In this space, we'll hear from rankers with the biggest differences of opinion on a well-known player and have them defend their position against each other.

Today, the subject of discussion is Braves' second baseman Ozzie Albies. An impressive late-season cameo has fantasy owners dreaming big on his 2018 potential. Kyle Bishop is a believer, while Bill Dubiel likely won't even consider Albies in drafts this spring.

Editor's Note: Stay on top of our MLB off-season news and fantasy analysis all year round. Read our daily fantasy columns about MLB prospects, dynasty outlooks, player outlooks and much more. It's always fantasy baseball season here. Let's Go!

 

2018 Draft Rankings Debate - Ozzie Albies

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Pierre Jeff Harris Bill
200 13 Ozzie Albies 2B/SS 148  245 297 147 270 291

 


Kyle Bishop's Ranking: #148 overall

Ozzie Albies only turned 21 a month ago and he's already reached the major leagues. That doesn't happen without serious talent. While 57 games isn't the largest sample in the world, Albies already looks like he belongs. He hit .286/.354/.456 in those contests, with six home runs and eight stolen bases in nine attempts. Throughout his minor league career and its aggressive promotions, the Braves' less-heralded phenom has shown great bat-to-ball skills, along with a good grasp of the strike zone and blazing speed. Last season, he also put up the best isolated power marks of his career (.156 at Triple-A, .171 in the majors), demonstrating that he has the ability to be more than just an empty batting average. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound Albies will never be a big-time power hitter, but he has enough pop in his bat to crack double-digit home runs.

Albies is expected to hit second in the Braves' lineup, between Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman, so he'll have plenty of opportunities to score runs. So far in his career, he's stolen bases at a 35 SB per 600 plate appearances clip. That 600 PA benchmark, by the way, is one he's surpassed in each of the last two seasons. An area often overlooked when weighing the pros and cons of young players is the grind of a full season's worth of plate appearances; Albies has proven he can handle it.

You'll have plenty of other avenues to chase power and RBI in the current landscape. A player who could finish in the top five in stolen bases while flirting with 100 runs and a .300 batting average is a good deal harder to find. That's why Albies' ADP has been rising all spring, and it's why he'll still turn a profit on that middle-round investment.

 

Bill Dubiel's Ranking: #291 overall

Albies is no doubt destined for great things in his career for all of the reasons Kyle listed above. However, my "triflin'" ranking (Kyle's words, not mine) is a result of my perennial Debbie Downer-ness when it comes to rookies. Albies has shown everyone that he has nothing left to prove in the minors, and he's currently projected to start at second base and bat second for the Braves in 2018. That organization is leaning hard into their next generation of talent, and Albies will be at the forefront of that movement.

However, as Kyle mentioned we've only seen him in 57 big league games, and I'm not ready to look at last year as the only standard to project from. For example, he posted career-high ISO numbers in AAA and the majors last year (.156 at Triple-A, .171 in the majors). While it's certainly possible that he's added a bit of pop as he's matured (he is only 21, after all), I'm not ready to buy that kind of power boost. I still expect his true power profile to end up much closer to .120-.130, which obviously limits his fantasy upside.

The speed is real, and Albies may very well be a candidate to steal 30 bags if he's able to maintain his aforementioned success rate. He'll certainly have plenty of opportunities to establish himself, as again the Braves are more concerned about developing their young talent than winning at this point. Hitting between Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman certainly is a nice position, but outside of the two of them who can you rely on--and I mean truly rely on, not hope for--to produce? Tyler Flowers? Nick Markakis? Until hitters like Ronald Acuna, Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson develop, the Braves lineup isn't going to be posting a ton of runs. I think he'll be much closer to 75-80 runs scored than 100 in 2018.

I admit that my current ranking of Albies may be too low. However, I won't be moving it anywhere near Kyle's in the coming weeks, as I don't see the young infielder as anything more than 25-30 SB, 80 runs scored and a batting average around .275. The speed numbers will increase his value in roto formats, but from a mixed/points perspective I don't see much upside in Albies fantasy outlook for 2018.

 

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