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Hays ranked sixth-best OF prospect

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The future is here.

The Orioles got a good look at several of their young top prospects in September and one of the most promising is outfielder Austin Hays, who was named the organization's Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year and is currently ranked as the sixth-best outfield prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

BALTIMORE -- The future is here.

The Orioles got a good look at several of their young top prospects in September and one of the most promising is outfielder Austin Hays, who was named the organization's Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year and is currently ranked as the sixth-best outfield prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

What's to like about Hays? A lot.

The 22-year-old broke out in a big way in his first full season after appearing in 38 games with short-season Aberdeen in 2016. Hayes led the system with a .329 average, 32 homers, 95 RBIs and 310 total bases, finishing eighth among all full-season Minor Leaguers with a .958 OPS across 128 games with Class A Advanced Frederick and Double-A Bowie.

"It was his first full year in professional baseball and he handled the 140-game schedule like he's done it five times," director of player development Brian Graham said recently of Hays.

"He had quality at-bats, recognized his pitches and hit the ball hard to all fields. When your numbers in Single-A and Double-A are almost identical -- from the number of at-bats to the number of doubles to the number of homers -- that suggests that you're a pretty good hitter and a pretty good player."

Hays' prolific Minor League season ended with a September callup and a chance to get regular innings with the Orioles to showcase what he can do. In 20 games, the O's No. 2 prospect held his own, notching his first career homer and hitting .217/.238/.317 with three doubles and eight RBIs.

When could he roam the outfield on a regular basis? As early as this season.

While the O's would ideally like to find a left-handed bat for right field to help balance out their lineup, Hays will enter camp in the mix and his ability to back up centerfield makes him a more enticing option.

But regardless of where he starts the season, Hays will be a part of Baltimore's future. And that future looks pretty bright. Hays joins Ryan Mountcastle (3B) and Chance Sisco (C) as O's prospects ranked among the top 10 in their position, lending credence to the Orioles steady improvement in their farm system.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Austin Hays