Looking at the Baltimore Orioles right-field prospects
The Baltimore Orioles have several options for right field in the minor league system should they be needed at the start of the 2019 season
The Baltimore Orioles were forced to shut down right-fielder Mark Trumbo in August of last season due to a knee injury. Trumbo opted to have season-ending surgery to repair cartilage in his right knee on September 7th, with an expected six-month recovery time. The hope is for Trumbo to be ready by Opening Day 2019 but nothing is certain yet.
Should Trumbo not be ready in time for the start of the Orioles’ 2019 season, there are two prospects in the minor leagues, Austin Hays and D.J. Stewart ready to take his place. The question is, which of the two gets the assignment?
Stewart, the Orioles’ 2015 first-round draft pick, got the call to Baltimore on September 11th. The call-up surprised some in that it came well after his season with the Norfolk Tides (AAA) had ended. He finished his year in Norfolk with a .235/.329/.387 slash line in 116 games with 12 home runs and 55 RBI.
Appearing in 17 games for the Orioles, Stewart hit .250/ .340/ .550 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI in 40 at bats. Defensively, he handled 26 total chances with 24 put-outs and no errors.
Despite starting off slowly (0 for 13), Stewart finished strong (10 for 27) and by all accounts presented himself well during his time with the major league club.
Hays, the Baltimore Orioles’ 2016 third-round draft pick, spent the 2018 season playing for the Bowie Baysox (AA) as he worked his way back from injury including one to his shoulder suffered during Spring Training. He was limited to 66 games in Bowie where he hit .242/.271/.432 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI. Defensively, he made just one error and handled 150 total chances with a .993 fielding percentage.
Hays made his major league debut in September of 2017; he was the first player from the 2016 draft to make it to the major leagues. He also brought a level of excitement to Baltimore that had been lacking, and that excitement was felt and well-received by the fan base. Despite a debut that saw him hit .217/.238/.317 in 20 games, Hays was poised to compete for the outfield spot in Spring Training of 2018. The shoulder injury stalled that competition.
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Each of these players has something to prove during Spring Training 2019. Hays must show that he is recovered from both the shoulder injury and his September 13th ankle surgery. Stewart will need to show that he can produce to the level expected of a former first-round draft pick.
Both represent a viable option for the corner outfield position in 2019. They have the experience at the Major League level and are highly regarded prospects: Hays is the Baltimore Orioles #4 ranked prospect and Stewart is the #23 ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
The Baltimore Orioles rebuild has begun, and Hays and Stewart will each play a part in that rebuild. Options and depth are good things; the Orioles are working towards that end. I like what these prospects represent and what they bring to the table.
Weigh in Orioles fans: who of this pair of outfielders will be the first to patrol Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2019?