Players of the Week: Feb 4 - 10
Date: Feb 13, 2019
The Baltimore Orioles have called up 2014 Florida League MVP Austin Hays from the AA Bowie Baysox as they bolster their roster for the final month of play.
As of Wednesday, September 6th, the Orioles are one game back of the final wild card spot in the American League. With the expansion of rosters from 25 to 40 players on September 1st, Baltimore made the decision to bring Hays to the Big Leagues to add an offensive weapon to their lineup.
Hays, only 22 years old, just wrapped up one of the best seasons across all of Minor League Baseball. He split his time evenly between High-A Frederick and AA Bowie, playing 62 games at each location. After earning a starting All-Star bid for the Keys in June, the outfielder moved to Bowie and continued to rake. Combined, he hit .329/.365/.593 with 32 doubles and 32 home runs. The 32 dingers are the 2nd most across all of Minor League Baseball. His offensive output placed him as one of five finalists for the Minor League Player of the Year Award, which will be announced on Friday, September 8.
Hays was drafted in 2016 in the 3rd round (#91 overall) out of Jacksonville University. Prior to his time at JU, he spent a year at Seminole State College. Between his time at each school, he played for the DeLand Suns in the summer of 2014. He was named the League MVP after finishing in the Top 5 in the league in average (.349), runs (27), hits (53, 1st), doubles (9), triples (2), home runs (4), and slugging (.513). He was the Home Run Derby champion, a North All-Star and a member of the Florida League Prospect Team.
He is the first player from the 2016 draft class to reach the Major Leagues.
This is the second time this season that a Florida League alumni made their MLB debut. Eric Skoglund, a member of the 2014 College Park Freedom, started for the Kansas City Royals on May 30th against the Detroit Tigers. The big lefty tossed 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his first win. In all, the Florida League has had 21 former players reach the Majors.