The Orioles are set to promote outfielder Austin Hays to the Major League roster, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN. The touted 24-year-old will have his second crack at the big league level after a brief stint in 2017.
After a monster 2017 performance that ultimately earned him that promotion, Hays has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, delaying his track to the majors and interrupting his development. He’s thus far failed to replicate the production that put him on the map two years ago, but the Orioles are hoping to unearth that offensive potential with another big-league tryout.
Many assumed that Hays wouldn’t suit up for the Orioles and would instead report to the Arizona Fall League in mid-September. However, it appears that Baltimore’s plans for its No. 6-ranked prospect have changed, in part thanks to a new rule that allows 40-man players to report to the AFL partway through the season. That means that Hays will have a chance to get big-league reps for the remainder of the O’s season before traveling West to compete with other top prospects.
Hays has drawn praise from MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo for his explosive offensive skills, including the bat speed and control necessary to start at a corner outfield spot. An aggressive approach has meant that Hays features a low walk rate, though he is able to make frequent contact. With a strong arm, Hays seems best suited for right field, though he’ll need to hit for both average and power to earn his keep.