No. 2 prospect Hays will make O's debut soon

September 6th, 2017

BALTIMORE -- With Baltimore starting an 18-game stretch Thursday after losing its day off from Wednesday's rainout against the Yankees, the Orioles' No. 2 prospect, Austin Hays, could be making his Major League debut in the near future.
"If [Hays] would've been here the last three days, he might have started with the three left-handers. But now we have a pretty long stretch," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He can hit right-handers, too, at [the Double-A] level so we'll see. He'll get an opportunity somewhere along the line. He'll crop up. He was [going to be] in the game [Tuesday] if a certain thing had happened."
Hays has flown through the O's Minor League system, going from Class A Short Season to getting the callup to the Majors in just 15 months. Since his first game with the Aberdeen Ironbirds last June, Hays has accumulated a .330 average with 36 home runs and 116 RBIs in 166 games.
Although Hays has some speed, Showalter said the team will rely on Joey Rickard in pinch-running roles simply because of his experience. On the defensive end, Hays has posted a .982 career fielding percentage in the outfield with 13 assists.
"We saw him a little bit in the spring. The one thing that I would caution myself is that when guys first come up here, there's a different depth perception. The first time you have that third deck. There's a lot from the background seeing people in the stands. So there's an adjustment period with that," Showalter said. "So early on, I try not to take it too deep and you see a lot of guys improve. All indications are he is going to be a good defender and throw well."
No matter what role he will fill for the Orioles, Hays assumed that it could be a possibility to make it to the big leagues at the beginning of September. When Double-A Bowie manager Gary Kendall gave him the call, Hays was ready.
"Oh, it was unbelievable getting the call. My girlfriend was right next to me, so obviously I told her first because she was right there and then I would say the first person I called was my mom just to tell her. It's a dream come true," Hays said. "It's been unbelievable [to get here in just 15 months]. This first full season has gone by unbelievably fast. To see where I'm standing right now is just incredible."
Despite having the pressure of being ranked the Orioles' No. 2 prospect, Hays has been able to find success both offensively and defensively and does not expect that to change at the Major League level.
"I try not to change the way I played the game or the way I thought about the game or what I was trying to do on a daily basis," Hays said. "Just came in, put my work in, stayed with my routines and just took it day by day and kept having fun playing the game."