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Albies finding his niche with Gwinnett

Braves No. 3 prospect records first three-hit game at Triple-A
May 8, 2016

When Ozzie Albies checks the lineup card before each game, the only thing he's concerned about is if his name is on it.

"I don't care where I'm in the order, I just want to play," he said. "Wherever they want to play me, I will do my best to do my job."

Batting eighth on Sunday, the Braves' third-ranked prospect recorded his first Triple-A three-hit game to help Gwinnett defeat Charlotte, 4-2, at Coolray Field. He doubled twice and scored his first run since getting promoted from Double-A Mississippi on April 30.

"I'm feeling great," Albies said. "I'm just trying to do my thing every day and have fun out there."

A leadoff hitter for much of his Minor League career, Albies got off to a slow start in the International League and has batted from the bottom of the order his last four games. The switch-hitting shortstop said he's unconcerned about his place in the lineup.

"Actually, they told me I may have more leadoff opportunities hitting from there," Albies said. "So it doesn't matter to me where they want me to hit. I just want to play, and play every day."

Facing right-hander and 2009 first-round pick Jacob Turner in the second inning, the 19-year-old from Curacao doubled down the left field line on the first pitch he saw and scored on Emilio Bonifacio's sacrifice fly. He lined another double to right-center in the third before tacking on a single up the middle in the fifth .

"My approach was just trying to hit the ball to the opposite field. That's my approach every day," Albies said. "I'm just trying to stay through the baseball on my swings and be quick and short to hit only line drives."

The three hits hiked Albies' batting average with the G-Braves 76 points to .219. He was 2-for-22 in his first five IL games.

"I think my timing was probably just a little slow," Albies said. "I was just trying to keep making adjustments. The first game [with Gwinnett], I lined out three times, but if I keep a solid approach at the plate, good things will happen."

MLB.com's No. 26 overall prospect slashed .369/.442/.512 in 22 games with Double-A Mississippi before the Braves decided to present him with a new challenge.

"The biggest surprise [at this level] is that they throw every pitch in an at-bat," Albies said. "A lot of the pitchers can throw more than four different pitches and they throw them all for stirkes. This level is like the big leagues and everything is just consistent."

Albies also said he believes he's up to the challenge, despite being one of the youngest players at this level.

"I'm ready for it," he added. "I didn't expect the callup so soon, but I was excited and I'm just trying to do my best at the plate, get solid contact and find holes."

Sean Kazmar matched Albies with three hits, while Ronnier Mustelier delivered a bases-loaded triple in the first to get Gwinnett going.

Braves No. 22 prospect John Gant (2-0) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on six hits and a walk while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings. Chris Withrow and Ian Krol combined for five strikeouts over 2 1/3 frames, with Krol recording his first save of the season.

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng