Orioles 2010 top draft pick Manny Machado, a player rated by Baseball America as the sport’s 11th-best prospect in February, is struggling badly at bat in the last few weeks.
On May 21, Machado had a batting average of .279 and an OPS of .810. Now he is batting .234 with 15 doubles, two triples, three homers, 18 RBIs and a .695 OPS.
Machado is batting just .134 at 9-for-67 over his past 17 games with no multi-hit games in that stretch.
But Machado is the youngest player in the Eastern League at 19 and won’t turn 20 until July 6, and no one in the O’s organization seems too concerned right now.
As one club official told me, “We could have sent Manny to Frederick to see him put up stats, but we challenged him with the Bowie assignment.”
That they have and for him to have some ups and downs in a league with some very talented and much older pitchers is just not too surprising, even though fans would, of course, love to see their top prospects putting up big stats and dominating in their respective leagues.
Bowie manager Gary Kendall is a guy that is often very open and honest with reporters about the players he manages and he provided some interesting insights yesterday on Manny’s recent struggles.
“A lot of it has been how they’ve been pitching to him and sometimes (him) getting frustrated and getting away from what he does well. What to look for in certain counts. Not to say his age has shown but he’s gotten frustrated at times. Not that he lost focus but maybe got away from what made him successful earlier in the season versus now,” Kendall said.
“Denny (Hocking, Baysox batting coach) has been working hard with him on his swing. He’s got to get a little shorter getting to the ball, especially the ball in. He’s just missing some balls. Sometimes good results you don’t always see in the hit column but he’s been having some much better at-bats.
“He’s a confident kid and he just has to remain confident. He’s in a rut right now but he’s got plenty of hand speed in his swing and just needs to be more consistent and a little shorter with the swing.”
I asked Kendall what he meant by what Machado was doing earlier when he had success that he is not doing now.
“Sometimes maybe over-thinking and waiting too much for a pitch and letting too many good-hitting pitches go by. He’s gotten a lot of walks this year and lot with two strikes. But sometimes, maybe early in the count you get a good pitch, but think a better one will be on its way and you never get one. I don’t know if the term is over-selective, but sometime he’s been hitting in some bad counts,” he said.
Machado has always seemed to me to be a very upbeat and confident person and Kendall said he has remained that way even as his average has dropped.
“He’s been doing great. I mean nobody is great with struggles, but he’s been upbeat. He’s a super positive kid. He’s done so many other things, you hate to dwell on the bat. He’s done things to help us win even when he’s hitless.”
Kendall said he just doesn’t have any concerns about Manny and this recent slump.
“I don’t. If you watch our games, you’ll see how he competes. I get calls about him being 0-for-4 but they don’t look at the 0-for-4. There could be three really good at-bats. I saw LJ Hoes when he first got here at Double-A go through some tough days. He’s had some good at-bats that haven’t shown up in the boxscore,” he said.