Albies, Ronald Acuna and Charlie Culberson were able to take at-bats against live pitching this week, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports. The trio of hitters joined Mike Foltynewicz, Mike Soroka and Sean Newcomb at a high school in the Atlanta area for some more intense reps than the players had been getting in their respective batting cages and bullpen sessions, as each pitcher tossed three simulated innings of about 15 pitches against his teammates. Albies and the other Atlanta hitters appeared to be more than ready for a second training camp, and hopefully a regular season, to begin.
Albies has continued to fine tune his swing mechanics while the season is suspended, particularly from the left side, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. The young switch hitter has been better from the right side in his big-league career to date, but Albies showed improvement from the left side of the plate in 2019, boosting his OPS from .696 to .778 as he made an effort to pull the ball less often. As Bowman notes, Albies is one of only three switch hitters in major-league history to hit .275 or better with 50 or more homers and an OPS of .800 or better through his age-22 season, joining Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray.
Albies slashed .303/.324/.364 through 33 plate appearances to begin the spring. The 23-year-old is locked in as Atlanta's starting second baseman, and Albies should hold down a spot towards the top of the batting order as well. He was still looking for his first spring homer or steal when Grapefruit League play was put on pause, but after amassing 48 long balls and 29 steals over the last two seasons, he has little to prove in camp.
Albies went 3-for-4 with a double, a two-run home run and a second run scored in Tuesday's 9-6 loss to the Royals. He took Kansas City closer Ian Kennedy deep in the ninth inning for his 24th homer of the year, tying the career high he established last year. Albies is slashing .364/.405/.662 through 20 games in September, and the heater has the 22-year-old on the brink of hitting .300 for the season.
Albies is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Giants. Albies has been on fire of late, but with the Braves clinching the division title Friday, manager Brian Snitker is giving his regulars a chance to rest up in advance of the postseason. Albies will get a two-day break heading into a team off day. Adeiny Hechavarria will start at second base Sunday for the second day in a row.