Hays is leading off Wednesday against the Red Sox, Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun reports.
With Manny Machado (illness) and Tim Beckham (dental procedure) out of the lineup, Hays moves to the top of the lineup. He has been confined to the bottom two spots of the order since his surprise promotion from Double-A and is hitting an impressive .304/.333/.522 with one home run in 24 plate appearances. His 7:1 K:BB and .400 BABIP suggest this run of success is unsustainable, and even though he has the platoon advantage, Hays will be up against Chris Sale in this contest, so he is not a slam dunk in daily contests despite the advantageous spot in the order. Nonetheless, Hays is one of the top prospects in baseball and could open 2018 on the big-league roster despite having never played a game at Triple-A.
Hays is not in the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Red Sox.
Hays tallied six hits and five RBI over his last three games, so manager Buck Showalter will give him his fifth straight start, even though Adam Jones is back and the Orioles are facing a right-handed hitter. Hays will man right field and hit eighth in the Orioles' batting order Tuesday night.
Manager Buck Showalter has been impressed with Hays' play since the rookie was recalled earlier this month, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. "I've been really impressed with his arm strength. He's shown some arm strength on some throws flat-footed," Showalter said. "The part of [Hays] I really like is that he's anticipating taking an extra base. But he's played under control pretty well with that. It's not a reckless aggressiveness so far."
The 21-year-old outfielder slashed .329/.365/.593 with 32 home runs, 95 RBI and 81 runs over 128 minor-league games in 2017. Hays played in 64 games at both High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, posting nearly identical numbers at each stop. Baltimore's third-round pick in 2016 is 6-for-19 with a home run and five RBI since making his MLB debut as part of September's expanded rosters. He's arguably the top fantasy prospect in the organization, and Hays is worthy of being rostered in all dynasty formats.
Hays will get his first big-league start Saturday against the Indians, patrolling right field and hitting ninth, Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun reports.
The Orioles' top prospect has made a pinch-hit appearance since getting a surprise callup, but this marks his first game in the lineup. He has significant upside in batting average and power, but having bypassed Triple-A, it's hard to expect him to hit the ground running against big-league pitching. However, if he gets hot, he could start to steal more at-bats from Seth Smith over the final three weeks.
Hays had his contract purchased from Double-A Bowie on Tuesday.
Hays will join the Orioles after mashing in the minors this season, compiling a .329/.365/.593 line with 32 homers and 32 doubles in 128 games between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He doesn't walk much, but his ability to make consistent contact and hit for power make him one of the most underrated prospects in the game. It's unclear how much playing time Hays will see down the stretch, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him challenge Seth Smith for at-bats.
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