After very little time in the Baltimore Orioles farm system, outfielder Austin Hays shot up from the ranks of the minor leagues to make his Major League debut in September.
The one thing that the young Baltimore Orioles outfielder has always been able to do is hit.
From his days in community college at Seminole State, the young outfielder was a thrasher of baseballs, slashing .382/.425/.576, hitting six home runs and driving in 38 runs in 165 at-bats.
He ran into his first struggle when he transferred to Jacksonville University. Batting .271/.351/.385, hitting just three home runs and driving in 36 runs, Hays looked human. One thing to keep in mind was his youth. At the time, he was just 19 years old.
His cup of coffee
Drafted in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Hays began his professional baseball career in the rookie New York-Penn League with the Aberdeen IronBirds. In 153 plate appearances with the IronBirds, Hays slashed .336/.388/.514, hitting four home runs and driving in 21 runs at the age of 20.
After his strong 2016 season in Aberdeen, Hays would be named the #7 prospect in Baltimore’s organization by Baseball America.
His quick turnaround from college would continue in 2017. During spring training, Hays saw some time with the Orioles in seven at-bats. He slashed .143/.250/.143, driving in one run. His cup of coffee in the majors would drive him to have an extremely productive season in the minors.
Showing off in the minors
Hays began his season with the Single-A Frederick Keys, batting .328/.364/.592, with 16 home runs and 41 runs batted in (262 at-bats). After 64 games, he was promoted to double-A Bowie, where he nearly replicated his numbers. He batted .330/.371/.594, with 16 home runs and 54 runs batted in over the course of 64 games in Bowie (261 at-bats).
Then, the 21-year old would finally reach the show on September 7, 2017. Though he slashed just .217/.242/.317, with a home run and eight RBI in 60 at-bats with the Orioles, Hays showed that he was an extremely quick learner at the minor league level.
Kind words about the young baseball player
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When speaking about Hays on September 22, Bernie Pleskoff of FanRag Sports had this to say:
"Hays displays an excellent array of power, hitting ability, speed, defensive ability and a solid throwing arm. I grade his arm strength as a 60–very, very good. In short, he is a five-tool player with exciting upside."
It is a possibility that Hays could continue to season his hitting and fielding in the minors with Norfolk in 2017, but the question is: “Can he make adjustments during the offseason?” If he can play well during 2018 spring training, Hays shouldn’t have any issue with being the starting right fielder on Opening Day.
With his youth and athletic ability, he reminds many people of a young Adam Jones. The difference with Jones was that he didn’t have someone of his future caliber to show him the ropes. Hays does and he could eventually be the successor to Jones.
Before that, Hays will have a quality group of players to be surrounded with and learn from (at least for a short period of time) in Jones, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Trey Mancini and others. Having such talented players to play with and learn from, Hays could be primed for success at the big league level.