Rising prospect Vavra earns first call to Majors

July 28th, 2022

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have added another member of their top-rated farm system to the big league club. In doing so, they rewarded a prospect whose play was becoming hard to ignore, and they added a hoped-for nightly contributor to a team garnering competitiveness.

No. 12 prospect Terrin Vavra was called up from Triple-A Norfolk for the first time ahead of Tuesday’s tilt with the Rays at Camden Yards, one superutility player replacing another as Jonathan Araúz landed on the injured list with a right finger fracture sustained in Monday’s win.

Vavra was not in the starting lineup as a late arrival to Baltimore, nor did he find himself in the lineup on Wednesday. But once he debuts, he’s expected to be a nightly contributor in myriad ways, thanks to his utility in the field and the addition of his left-handed swing to a very right-handed lineup. He stands to earn most of his time at second base, but he has played both center and left field with Norfolk.

“We're so right-handed that adding a left-handed bat is nice for us,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Good to see a young guy playing well in Triple-A get rewarded and called up to the big leagues.”

Vavra was notified late Monday night that he was being called up, as the Tides arrived in Memphis for the week's slate of games. He called his family -- thankfully for him, his 35-week-pregnant wife, Carlie, was cleared to travel -- and landed in D.C. early Tuesday morning.

He saw several of his Tides teammates receive their first callups and debut this season, some to return later after being optioned following those debuts. Seeing both aspects of Major League life, as well as noticing the Orioles were rattling off wins, made this week long anticipated.

"That excites you and motivates you to want to come up here," Vavra said from locker in the home clubhouse on Wednesday. "You don't want to go anywhere where winning isn't a priority. That just keeps you excited."

Vavra, part of the return in the Mychal Givens trade with the Rockies in 2020 that included Tyler Nevin and Minor League outfielder Mishael Deson, has been plugging away ably with Norfolk this season, slashing .324/.435/.451 (.886 OPS) with 28 walks against 36 strikeouts across 45 games. Now 25, he has battled injuries since arriving with the organization, including a right hamstring strain that sidelined him for more than a month this season and a low back strain that limited him to just 48 games in ‘21.

"That was frustrating," Vavra said of his injury. "But we have some great guys in this organization that kept me motivated. Couldn't have asked for a better turnaround."

Vavra’s calling card is his hitter’s eye, one that has allowed him to get on base at a high clip across his Minor League career, with a .410 on-base percentage across 244 games, aided by a contact prowess. He has 21 career homers to go with a .468 slugging percentage.

A third-round selection in the 2018 Draft, Vavra is the son of former big league hitting coach Joe Vavra. He has two more baseball-minded brothers -- Tanner and Trey were both drafted by the Twins, but neither reached the Majors. More members of Vavra's family are in Baltimore, hoping to see his debut.

Vavra stands as the fifth member of the Orioles’ Top 30 Prospects list set to debut this season, joining Adley Rutschman, Kyle Bradish, Kyle Stowers and Félix Bautista.

Asked about the immediacy of Vavra’s debut, or how it might make sense to employ him, Hyde said his primary focus is “trying to win the game.”

“So when the opportunity presents itself, then it does,” he continued. “But we're trying to win every night's game.”