Dillon Atkinson: With 17 games left, it’s time to look to the future

After losing their sixth consecutive game on Tuesday night, the Orioles are currently 71-74, in fourth place in the American League East and 4 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. If a 4 1/2-game deficit wasn’t already enough to battle, it’s worth noting the Orioles have six teams that they would have to hop over to get into the postseason. Playoff hopes are diminishing more and more each day.

As we look ahead to the last 17 games of the 2017 season, it’s time to start wondering when the Orioles will wave the white flag. Chances are, the starters will continue to play every day and they’ll play hard until they’re mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. But at what point is it OK to take a look at the rookies of 2018?

Top organizational prospects Chance Sisco and Austin Hays are currently with the major league club during the expanded roster period. It is beneficial, in a sense, to bring them up so they can see the speed and high-level competition as a spectator. But now, with the team’s playoff hopes being very close to gone, it’s time to stop wasting their major league service time just for their eyes. Play the kids.

Sisco, 22, is a catcher with a good sense for hitting and is trying to gradually improve his defensive game behind the dish. According to MLBPipeline.com, he is the game’s 47th-best prospect, the Orioles No 1 prospect and baseball’s third-best catching prospect. Across five minor league seasons, the young backstop has slashed .311/.390/.426. While looking to improve his defensive skills, it could be important for him to learn under Caleb Joseph and Welington Castillo for the time being. Joseph is a very strongly skilled pitch-framer and blocker, while Castillo does a good job controlling the running game.

Hays, 22, is an outfielder who was drafted just last year by the Orioles. Over 166 minor-league games between low Single-A Aberdeen, high Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, Hays has batted .330/.370/.576 with 36 home runs. He is currently ranked the 95th-best prospect in baseball and second-best in the Orioles organization, per MLBPipeline.com. In these last 17 games, he could learn a thing or two by playing alongside Adam Jones in the outfield.

I understand some of you may be thinking that the Orioles can’t wave the white flag yet because they’re not mathematically out of it. I get it. But at the same time, would starting these two prospects hurt the team more than a six-game losing streak already has? It’s time to put an end to having them learn from the bench. It’s possible that both of these players could be on the opening day roster as rookies in 2018. Give them the first-hand experience now. You never know, we might be able to witness something special.

Dillon Atkinson blogs about the Orioles for Orioles Uncensored. Follow him on Twitter: @DAtkinsonOU. His thoughts on the O’s appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s continuing commitment to welcome guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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