Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he plans to hand a major league debut to outfield prospect and former top pick DJ Stewart on Wednesday, another step in fulfilling the team’s vow to go young over the last few months of the season and look to the future.

Those claims were drastic when the Orioles’ brass made them in trading away five former All-Stars — Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and Jonathan Schoop — plus former first-round pick Kevin Gausman, and because they were made in the best interest of the club long-term, they were largely accepted.


Nearly two months since the Machado trade, though, the execution on the field hasn’t been as strong as expected. Save for the presence of Cedric Mullins (against right-handed pitching) and the everyday role handed to Renato Núñez at third base, it’s hard to find any other ways the Orioles are working to serve their best interests of late. And they’re running out of time to change that.

Former top pick DJ Stewart joins Orioles with plenty to prove as team continues to pass out opportunities

Former first-round pick DJ Stewart joined the Orioles ahead of their series-opener against the Oakland Athletics.

From waiting this long to call up Stewart — who it’s clear they were simply waiting for a reason to add in the first place — to bringing back former top prospect Chance Sisco and starting him twice in seven games, the total picture amounts to a collective half-measure in truly buying into what they’re touting as the plan. A couple starts for Josh Rogers and the pending look at Luis Ortiz don’t do much to swing that, either.

Stewart’s addition coming on the heels of three days on the bench for Adam Jones creates a complicated circumstance, one that has little to do with Stewart himself. As a first-round draft pick who has been buffered from criticism by the highest levels of the organization, Stewart was bound to be here this month despite an uneven season at Triple-A Norfolk. He also has the name recognition to give the team cover for him playing over Jones in whichever outfield alignments they want to try.

Yet as the team returned home Tuesday from a nine-game road trip that ended with Jones on the bench, the veteran outfielder and mainstay on the team was the only player any of the paltry crowd at Camden Yards really cheered for. Jones’ situation shouldn’t be that complicated, and any further mistreatment on his way out of Baltimore might alienate those who stick around the ballpark this month as the proverbial purple lights across the parking lots pull them toward football.

They can play Stewart, Mullins and Jones across the outfield and mix in Joey Rickard and John Andreoli without truly limiting the potential benefit of this month. That part is simple.

So, too, should be getting Sisco more involved. This time last year, when he was a September call-up for the first time and making his debut after a solid season at Norfolk as the team’s top prospect, he was brought along slowly but benefited plenty.

His struggles earlier in the season, and the fact that he didn’t get it going in Norfolk once he went down for good, should be moot at this point. If he couldn’t handle making the team out of spring training and leading a major league staff as a rookie, that’s just as big an internal evaluation issue as it is with Sisco himself. Plenty of players struggle early. Adjustments can take time. Austin Wynns’ development is just as important, and Caleb Joseph is starting to hit again, but Sisco is at a stage in his career where being a passenger doesn’t do much good.

It’s why Mullins is playing through the league’s adjustment to him, and why Stewart should get that chance over these next few weeks. Mullins and Sisco are 23. Stewart is 24. Through the team’s unprecedented season and their own progress, they’re scrapping for a major league opportunity with players who were a long way from the majors at that age. A few weeks to see if they can hack it before the team has to begin making plans for 2019 and beyond could make a big difference by the time they and the Orioles are ready for the big time again.