Orioles calling up Manny Machado from Double-A Bowie

Following Wednesday's sweep-clinching win over the Mariners -- a win that put the Orioles in a three-way tie for the AL wild-card lead -- the O's made a late night move that further proved they're trying to win this season.

The club announced it is purchasing the contract of top position prospect Manny Machado from Double-A Bowie before Thursday's game.

In other words, the future is now.

Machado, ranked the 9th best prospect in the game by Baseball America, will make his first major league start in Thursday at third base against the Kansas City Royals and left-handed starter Will Smith. Initially, he will see most of his starts against left-handed pitching.

"Manny can be a plus and help the team," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "The kid has a lot ot talent. It sounds like Buck will play him at third base."

The 20-year-old Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft out of Miami Brito Private, entered the night hitting .266/.352/.438 with 11 homers and 59 RBIs in 109 games for the Baysox.

The last time the Orioles had a player make his major league debut before his 21st birthday was when pitcher Hayden Penn did in 2005. The last position player was Eugene Kingsale in 1996.

Machado played in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City last month, going 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. He has been on a torrid pace over his last 10 games at Bowie, hitting .444/.512/.889 with three doubles, two triples, three homers and seven RBIs.

Machado has only played two career minor league games at third -- he's played 203 of his 208 games at shortstop -- but the Orioles aren't moving shortstop J.J. Hardy from his current post.

The Orioles have struggled defensively at third, with Wilson Betemit making a team-high 13 errors at third and Mark Reynolds making six errors at the hot corner in 15 games.

The organization is confident Machado can make an easy transition to third base. He's taken balls at third as often as four times a week over the past several weeks at Bowie.

The Orioles would have to make corresponding 25-man and 40-man roster moves. They will likely option right-handed starter Steve Johnson or right-handed reliever Miguel Socolovich to Triple-A Norfolk and transfer second baseman Brian Roberts to the 60-day disabled list.

Shortly before the Orioles announced Machado was coming to Baltimore, top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was promoted to Double-A Bowie, furthering the Orioles' 2011 first-round pick's fast track to Camden Yards as a possible September call-up.