Tap-In Question: Which Oriole debut over the years were you most anticipating? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Connolly's Tap Room

Tap-In Question: Which Oriole debut over the years were you most anticipating?

I’ll save you further analysis of Thursday’s beating by the New York Yankees.

In one sense, the Orioles needed that win. In another sense, every time I say the Orioles need to win a game, they don’t. And yet they remain in the hunt.

Since we can’t figure out this team, let’s make today’s Tap Room subject a little bit about history, with a connection to the present.

This is another one of those Connolly questions without a correct answer. I just want to know your opinion – this one is personal in a non-probing, can’t-get-arrested kind of way – and stroll down Memory Lane with you.

Recently promoted outfielder Austin Hays is the next big thing for the Orioles, a third-rounder from 2016 that absolutely, positively destroyed the minors in his first year-plus as a pro.

He’ll eventually be named the Orioles’ 2017 Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award winner after hitting a combined .329 with 32 homers and 32 doubles at High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie.

He has some speed, defensive abilities and a hard-charging style of play. He officially made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in right field during the top of the ninth on Thursday. He batted in the bottom of the inning, grounding out to end the game.

We’re all looking forward to his first major league start. It will almost certainly come on this upcoming road trip, though all three of the starters in Cleveland are right-handers and the expectation is that the right-handed-hitting Hays will mainly start in right field versus lefties while lefty Seth Smith gets a breather.

The Orioles have had their fair share of anticipated debuts during the years I’ve covered this team involving players such as Nick Markakis, Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, among others.

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To me, none was more hyped or more anticipated than Wieters’ debut on May 29, 2009. Low-key club president Andy MacPhail actually announced on MASN three days before his debut that Wieters, baseball’s top prospect at the time, would be in the starting lineup that Friday night against the Detroit Tigers. It was a brilliant move: 42,704 people attended that game, including more than 10,000 who bought walk-up tickets the evening of the game.

I’m not sure that debut will be rivaled. Certainly, though, there was plenty of buzz around Manny Machado when he arrived in Baltimore on August 9, 2012. And, I remember all the hype around right-hander Ben McDonald in September 1989, when the No. 1 overall pick of that year’s draft was called up to the Orioles in a pennant race. He’s the last No. 1 overall pick to make the majors in the year he was selected.

Here’s what I want to know from you: Which Oriole debut were you most eagerly anticipating? It’s OK if it’s now a long-forgotten flash-in-the-pan (Matt Riley, anyone?).

Just give me a name and an explanation. And a story to go along with it if warranted.

Tap-In Question: Which Oriole debut were you most anticipating?

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