LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Andrelton Simmons knows that he needs a little more time to develop his offensive skills at the Minor League level. But the highly regarded shortstop prospect hopes to reach the Majors before this season is complete.
"Of course, who doesn't [want to play in the Majors]," Simmons said. "During the year at some time, I'm hoping to be there and try to help the team win. It's possible. I know I've still got some stuff to learn. I'm trying to learn as quick as I can."
The Braves are preparing to enter this season with Tyler Pastornicky as their starting shortstop. But the organization knows Simmons could be Major League-ready by this time next year. He is ranked by MLB.com as baseball's ninth-best shortstop prospect.
There are few defensive concerns surrounding Simmons, who has wowed scouts with his glove. Less than two years removed from his collegiate career at Western Oklahoma State, he needs to compile more at-bats at the Minor League level. But the 22-year-old shortstop opened some eyes last summer when he won the Carolina League batting title.
Simmons' .311 batting average last year was 21 points higher than the next qualified batter. He possesses some speed, but is still learning the art of stealing bases. He was successful with 26 of his 44 stolen-base attempts last year.
"I was happy with the season, but you're always looking to improve, too," Simmons said. "So I'm never satisfied. The whole year I was trying to do work. I learned a lot from the full season last year."
The Braves drafted Simmons as a pitcher in the second round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. But the young shortstop was able to convince the club to allow him to begin his professional career as a position player.
"They gave me a chance," Simmons said. "We talked for a bit and they decided to give me a chance. Apparently, I'm doing well."