Orioles prospect Austin Hays to have ankle surgery, expected to be ready for spring training

Orioles outfield prospect Austin Hays, whose season was sidetracked by a lingering ankle injury that limited him to 75 games, is scheduled to undergo surgery on the joint Thursday.

Hays visited a foot specialist in Wisconsin on Wednesday who recommended surgery. He wrote on Twitter on Wednesday night that he will be having the procedure Thursday morning.

The 23-year-old is expected to be ready for spring training, according to an Orioles club source.

It’s a difficult ending to a frustrating season for Hays, who this time last season was getting his first taste of the majors after his rapid ascension through the Orioles’ farm system.

After going on the disabled list in late May, Hays missed just over two months with the ankle injury, and he hit .250/.275/.456 in 32 games after his return. He hit four homers in his last nine games.

Hays was expected to get more at-bats in the Arizona Fall League from the beginning of October to mid-November, but he will now miss that opportunity.

A third-round draft pick in 2016, Hays was the first player from that year’s draft class to make the major leagues. He entered spring training with a chance to win the starting right fielder job, but a lat injury and the team’s signings of veterans Colby Rasmus and Craig Gentry left Hays on the outside looking in.

Hays entered the season ranked as the team’s top prospect, according to Baseball America, but is now No. 2 after the Orioles acquired outfielder Yusniel Díaz at the All-Star break in the Manny Machado trade.

eencina@baltsun.com

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