Orioles outfield prospect Austin Hays will rejoin the Double-A Bowie Baysox tonight. He’ll be on the field when the Baysox begin a series with New Hampshire at 7:05 p.m. at Prince George’s Stadium. The Baysox could feature an outfield with Hays, Yusniel Díaz and Ryan McKenna.
Hays has been out of the Bowie lineup since May 24 due to an ankle bone bruise and tendinitis, and was in a walking boot for weeks. He played nine injury rehab games for short season Single-A Aberdeen, batting .189 (7-for-37) with three RBIs. This was essentially a second spring training for Hays who has not played for the Baysox in over two months.
Hays was the Orioles’ 2017 minor league Player of the Year and a finalist for Baseball America’s national Player of the Year. But he injured his shoulder in spring training and then got off to a slow start with Bowie. Over his first 43 games, Hays hit .224/.259/.374 with four doubles, two triples, six homers and 18 RBIs.
Some of Hays’ struggles at the plate earlier this year may have been the result of a player pressing to live up to his great 2017 season. Between Single-A Frederick and Bowie, he hit .329/.365/.593 with 32 doubles, five triples, 32 homers, 95 RBIs and with an OPS of .958.
“A lot of it was because he was pressing, wanting to do a lot,” Bowie manager Gary Kendall said recently. “You know when you have the year he had last year and you have a bit of a slow start, you try to get three hits every time up. All he needs to do - because he puts a good swing on the ball - is treat each at-bat and get into that at-bat. Certainly he’s at .224, but he squared some balls up that were caught and hit into some tough luck. He was making progress using the whole field, which is another thing we’d like him to do. But I think he was just pressing so much.”
Hays is ranked No. 61 in the most recently updated top 100 prospects list from Baseball America. The list was just updated Monday to include 2018 draft picks and international signees. Díaz is the highest-rated O’s prospect at No. 45 and Bowie’s Ryan Mountcastle is No. 62.
Here is a look at the current rotations for the Orioles four full-season teams. This may not be the order exactly, but those pitching in the current rotations.
Norfolk: John Means, Jimmy Yacabonis, Josh Rogers, Luis Ortiz. That is just four and the fifth spot for now may see several pitchers in there potentially, and they include Lucas Long and Matt Wotherspoon.
Right-handed reliever Ryan Meisinger went on the Triple-A Norfolk disabled list retroactive to July 26 with right shoulder tendinitis. An MRI found no structural damage. Right now there is no timetable for his return. Meisinger got into four games with the Orioles this year, pitching to an ERA of 3.00. In six innings he allowed four hits and two runs. At Bowie and Norfolk this year, Meisinger is 2-0 with a 3.05 ERA. In 44 1/3 he walked 13 and fanned 53.
Two rehabbing pitchers, right-hander Cody Sedlock and lefty Ryan O’Rourke, will be joining Aberdeen. Sedlock, the Orioles top pick in the 2016 draft, began the year with Single-A Frederick. But he was shut down after three starts with a right shoulder strain. Recently he pitched in five games for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles with an ERA of 0.93. Over 9 2/3 innings he allowed five hits and one run. O’Rourke, 29, posted a 4.98 ERA in 54 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2015 and 2016 and then had Tommy John surgery in May of 2017. He recently pitched in five GCL games. Over 4 2/3 innings, he allowed two hits and two unearned runs with nine strikeouts.
Short season Single-A Aberdeen right now features two young shortstops that are splitting time. They are Adam Hall, the club’s second-round draft pick last year, and 18-year-old switch-hitter Jean Carmona from the Dominican Republic. Carmona was acquired from Milwaukee in the Jonathan Schoop trade. He was a 2017 Dominican Summer League All-Star and was originally signed by Milwaukee on July 2, 2016 to a $725,000 bonus. Carmona went 2-for-9 in his first two Aberdeen games. Carmona’s single in the last of the ninth on Sunday gave Aberdeen a walk-off win. The plan for now is for the two players to continue to play only shortstop and possibly DH in games they are not the starter at short.
The Orioles 2018 top draft pick, prep right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, has now thrown 12 scoreless innings allowing seven hits in seven GCL games. He has walked five and fanned 10. His last game was his longest outing when he pitched three innings Aug. 3.
“His stuff is really good, he throws strikes and pitches down in the strikezone very well,” said Brian Graham, the Orioles director of player development. “For a high school pitcher he is very mature. He just needs experience as a young pitcher facing good hitters. He’s doing very well.”
The Orioles third-round pick this year, Arkansas right-handed pitcher Blaine Knight, is expected to make his pro debut on Aug. 10 for Aberdeen at home versus Vermont. The Orioles signed Knight to a $1.1 million bonus, which was well over the slot amount of $663,200 for the 87th pick. Knight had a strong junior season in leading Arkansas to the College World Series. Over 19 starts, counting the postseason, he went 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA, 25 walks and 102 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings.
Knight may throw only 10-15 innings in four or five short starts for Aberdeen to finish out his season. He will then return to Arkansas to take classes this fall and miss the Orioles instructional league workouts that begin Sept. 12.
“This is fine,” Graham said. “Because he has never pitched summer ball. So this is a little bit of uncharted waters for him pitching at his time of the year. As well as instructional league would be too, so we are fine with him going back to school. He’s been throwing some bullpens and live BPs and getting acclimated to our pitching program. He comes as advertised. Good feel to pitch, good arm. Very mature.”
Bowie catcher Martin Červenka was recently named the Orioles minor league Player of the Month for July. Yesterday Červenka was named the Eastern League Player of the Month. During July he hit .364/.436/.758 in 20 games with five doubles, seven homers, 11 runs and 25 RBIs.
Červenka, who is a native of Prague, Czech Republic, was also a member of the Western Division roster for the 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game July 11th. He was selected by the Orioles from the San Francisco Giants in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft in December.