The Baltimore Orioles are sending minor league outfielder T.J. Nichting to the Arizona Fall League this week.
It was supposed to be an opportunity for Baltimore Orioles outfielder Austin Hays to get in his at-bats and game reps after missing significant time in 2019 due to injury, but a large amount of playing time and an impressive performance during the month of September was enough for Orioles leadership to elect to keep him at home, instead of sending him out to Arizona.
That leaves the opportunity for the Orioles to send another deserving prospect to the elite Arizona Fall League, which continues to run through October 25th (championship game scheduled for the 26th). Taking the place of Austin Hays will be Bowie Baysox outfielder, T.J. Nichting.
Nichting will join infielders Mason McCoy and Rylan Bannon, and pitchers Cody Carroll, Alex Wells, David Lebron and Dean Kremer who are already getting their work in with the Surprise Saguaros. As of Monday morning (an off day in the AFL), the Saguaros hold the top record in the league with an 8-2 mark.
Nichting, a former ninth-round pick out of Charlotte, just completed his third season in the Baltimore Orioles organization, his first in Double-A with the Bowie Baysox. If you are someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time watching Orioles minor league baseball, you may still be familiar with Nichting from this unbelievable catch during his rookie season with the Aberdeen Ironbirds.
Nichting appeared in 105 games for the Baysox this season, slashing .256/.293/.375 with six home runs, 34 RBI, 18 doubles, and three triples. He was able to find a bit of success in the tough Eastern League, slightly improving his walk rate and increasing his wRC+ from 78 with the High-A Frederick Keys to 94 in Bowie. Offense was extremely difficult to come by in the EL in 2019, yet Nichting continued to find the gaps (72 doubles and triples in 300 career games) and keep his strikeout rate low (18.5%).
Coming out of Charlotte, Nichting was known for his contact skills, low strikeout totals, and speed in the outfield. You won’t find his name on a Baltimore Orioles Top 30 prospect list, but the organization clearly sees something in the 24-year-old switch-hitting outfielder to give him this opportunity.
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