Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Manny Machado to make MLB debut Thursday, Bundy to Bowie

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With O’s fans still riding high just hours after the team completed a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners – a game that included the feel-good story of pitcher Steve Johnson recording his first major league win 23 years to the day after his father did the same with the Birds – the organization shocked everybody with the following announcement:

ORIOLES PLAN TO SELECT CONTRACT OF INF MANNY MACHADO FOR TOMORROW NIGHT’S GAME

The Orioles announced after tonight’s game that they plan to select the contract of INF MANNY MACHADO from Double-A Bowie before tomorrow night’s game against Kansas City. He will be making his major league debut.

Machado, 20, has batted .266/.352/.438 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI in 109 games with the Baysox this season, including a .275/.365/.505 line in 91 at-bats since the All-Star break.

The Orioles’ first round selection (#3 overall) in the 2010 First Year Player Draft out of Brito Private School in Miami, FL, Machado came into 2012 rated as the #2 prospect in the Orioles organization and the #11 prospect overall by Baseball America. He played in the MLB Futures Game in Kansas City in July, going 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored.

Machado was a 2011 South Atlantic League All-Star. Machado entered play on Wednesday a career .263/.343/.428 hitter in 218 minor league games over three seasons (2010-2012).

Honestly, nobody saw this one coming. The team has won five games in a row and the offense seems to be largely coming alive (finally). J.J. Hardy obviously isn’t going anywhere. While Machado could be used to give Hardy a day off here and there down the stretch, it seems more likely that he will see the majority of his playing time at third base.

While Wilson Betemit has had a strong left-handed bat all season for the Birds, his defense at the hot corner has left quite a bit to be desired. Robert Andino can play a much better third base than Betemit can, but his offensive skills aren’t up to par with what a contending team needs from a corner infielder.

So what is Buck’s plan for Machado? Play him at 3B against only left-handed pitching? Play him every day and force Betemit to DH? In the latter case, that would force Chris Davis out to left field, after he’s been settling fairly nicely into the DH role here the past couple weeks.

If Davis moves out to left field with Machado at 3B, it would seem that the O’s will only upgrade their infield defense at the expense of their outfield defense, now that Nate McLouth can play LF.

And why would the organization bring up their second-highest ranked prospect only to sit the bench or play in a platoon role? Wouldn’t he be much better served to continue to rack up at bats in the minors?

I don’t have answers to these questions. Like I said, everybody was caught off guard by this, me included. Let’s just sit back and watch what unfolds.

In other news, the team also announced that their top-ranked prospect, pitcher Dylan Bundy, will make the move to AA Bowie. Bundy is scheduled to pitch the first game of a double-header next Tuesday at Prince George’s Stadium. First pitch is at 6:05.

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