Outfielder Austin Hays, whose breakout season on the Orioles' farm has vaulted him up national prospect lists and made him one of the most productive hitters in all the minor leagues, was added from Double-A Bowie on Tuesday to bolster the team for the stretch run.
Hays, a third-round pick out of Jacksonville in 2016, will be the first player from last year's draft class in the major leagues. His activation will serve as a boost to an Orioles lineup against left-handed pitching that has missed outfielder Craig Gentry (fractured finger) in recent days.
The right-handed hitting Hays had no trouble handling any kind of pitching en route to batting .329/.365/.593 with 32 home runs and 32 doubles over 128 games with High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, though he hit a combined .411 with 12 home runs off lefties.
Hays has been a frequent topic for manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette of late, with Duquette saying they'd pay attention to the players at Double-A through the Baysox's playoff run, which begins Wednesday.
Showalter said there were roster considerations keeping them from adding Hays, as the Orioles have a full 40-man roster and also need to add shortstop J.J. Hardy in the coming days. To make room for Hays, the Orioles designated left-hander Jayson Aquino for assignment.
Last week in Bowie, Baysox manager Gary Kendall foreshadowed a call-up and what Hays could add outside of his developing power bat.
"Old scouts always used to say power is one of the last things to come," Kendall said. "But I personally would like this guy if the home runs weren't there — just because of the way he plays. The way he plays the game of baseball, it's very solid. He's a guy who if you brought him up to a level, he does enough defensively to sacrifice what he wouldn't do offensively and vice versa. He does enough offensively to sacrifice what he does defensively. He's just a grinder. He's a guy that you have no problem penciling him in that lineup every day."
On Tuesday, Hays was named one of five finalists to be Baseball America's minor league player of the year.
MASNSports.com first reported Hays is coming to Baltimore.
This story will be updated.