Austin Hays, seven others cut by Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Austin Hays, seven others cut by Orioles

Austin Hays
Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Fla.—Austin Hays is leading the Orioles in home runs and RBIs this spring. That didn’t prevent him from being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday.

Hays was one of eight players cut by the Orioles as they reduced their squad to 39, 14 above where they must be for the March 28 opener against the New York Yankees.

The Orioles also optioned right-handed pitchers Cody Carroll, Branden Kline and Yefry Ramirez, infielder Stevie Wilkerson and outfielder Anthony Santander to the Tides. Infielder Christopher Bostick and right-hander Gabriel Ynoa were reassigned to minor league camp.

“A lot of very talented players sent out today,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “Some…had spectacular camps, huge parts of our future. If you look at the list from today, I would expect that perhaps all eight of these players will play for the Orioles this year.”

Hays, who had such a strong year in High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie that he was brought to the major leagues in September 2017, 15 months after he was drafted, had an injury-marred 2018 and had right ankle surgery.

The 23-year-old, who hit .351 with five home runs and 15 RBIs this spring, said that he was surprised by the demotion.

“A little bit. I was putting up some good numbers, I was feeling good, feeling healthy,” Hays said.

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“I still haven’t played too many games in the minor leagues, I haven’t had too many at-bats. I missed almost a whole year due to injuries. There’s some time I need to make up. Just keep doing what I’m doing, keep the momentum that I built here in spring training and carry it into the season, wherever it is.”

Hays hit .217 with a home run and eight RBIs in 20 late-season games in 2017 and was expected to spend significant time with the Orioles last season.

“It’s just I came up here really, really fast,” Hays said. “I missed a lot of time last year, so it’s just a matter of getting the reps in, continuing to work, continuing to learn and grow as a player. That way, when I do come up and play my next game in Camden Yards, hopefully, I’ll stick and be here for good.”

Hays had outperformed incumbent Cedric Mullins in center field, and many expected him to go north with the Orioles.

“It’s important to prioritize the individual development, especially with players that are going to be centerpieces of our future here,” Elias said. “And we’re going to err on the side of what is right for the particular players rather than experiment or trying to get them on the roster early and see what happens.”

Elias liked what he saw from Hays and thinks he can play center and right field, but said that Hays in center is more valuable to the Orioles.

“We’re very excited about how he looked,” Elias said. “His health was a question mark coming into this camp for him and for us. He looks terrific. His tools have returned, and he had a very productive camp, so this is exactly what we were hoping for.

“In terms of the decision surrounding Austin, look at his body of work. He has not spent much time at the Double-A level. He’s spent zero time at the Triple-A level. He had a bad year last year due to injury, and we felt that it was important to get him a baseline of production and get his feet under him—literally, and then see what we have and go from there. We’ll make the right determination around his career development rather than reacting to the fact that he’s had statistically the best camp here.”

Ramirez had a rough start to his big league career, going 1-8 with a 5.92 ERA last year. He was chosen to start the first Grapefruit League game, on February 23, but never started again.

He had a 1-0 record and 5.11 ERA in five spring games and never really fit into the competition for a back-end starter’s job. He started 12 games for the Orioles last season.

Carroll’s demotion was a surprise, too. He had a 2.57 ERA in seven Grapefruit League games, striking out seven and walking one.

He came to the Orioles in the July trade with the New York Yankees for Zack Britton and was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 15 games.

“He’s another guy where, while I’m very excited about how he looked in camp, and how well he did statistically in camp, I’ve learned and the evidence bears out that real whole-season minor league statistics have a little more predictive information to them than spring training statistics.”

Santander was a Rule 5 draft choice two years ago and has a .214 big league batting average with a home run and eight RBIs in 46 games with the Orioles over the last two seasons. He hit .333 this spring with two homers and seven RBIs.

Wilkerson had stiff competition for a utility job. Last year, he played 16 games with the Orioles and hit .174 with three RBIs. This spring, he hit .222 with a home run and nine RBIs.

In his first major league camp, Kline, who has never pitched above Double-A, had an 0-2 record and 5.79 ERA.

Bostick, who was also competing for a utility job, batted .233 with three RBIs. Ynoa, who missed nearly all of last season because of injuries, was 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in three games.

“We’ve got a good club remaining,” Elias said. “There’s still a lot of competition remaining in this camp, and by no means were the guys who were sent out today off the radar screen.”

Elias has some important decisions remaining. This week, the Orioles may have to add veteran infielder Alcides Escobar, catcher Jesus Sucre and outfielder Eric Young Jr. to the 40-man roster. All came to camp on minor league contracts.

“I don’t want to take anyone off the 40-man,” Elias said. “It’s just something we’re going to have to wait, and on top of that  I also anticipate that other teams will be taking guys off the roster and putting them on waivers that might be attractive to us. These are just some of the most difficult decisions that we’re doing right now, determining who we might take off the roster if we’re going to be adding somebody, which we probably will.”

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 17, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Hey kids, I guess we all have to realize that winning some games this year is absolutely not a priority. And I’m beginning to wonder if losing a lot of games IS.

    Tanking sucks. And so does sending down your best outfielder.

    • Bhoffman1

      March 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Agree with everything you said Boog. The team the O’s go north is not comprised of the best players.i rather lose with young exciting players who might need some more experience then Mediocre veterans. It’s going to be ugly and boring and with empty stands many Ellis will learn quickly what the fans what to see. On another note we are getting creamed today by the Yankees second squad and Mr Wright has already given up 4 homers.

    • Jbigle1

      March 17, 2019 at 10:54 pm

      That’s not really fair. Hays has literally played zero games in AAA and was horrible last year. one solid month of ST is not nearly enough to convince me he’s a major leaguer today. Let him tear up AAA for a month if he’s truly ready. What does that hurt? There’s no downside in that whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if we win 60 or 62 games. Austin Hays didn’t come off a season where he looked like mike trout in the minors. He looked more like 2017 Chris Davis.

      • SpinMaster

        March 18, 2019 at 8:18 am

        Agreed. One thing that all of us have to look at, is what type of pitching the guys who have had bang up ST have hit against. Are they major league caliber pitching or another teams AAA/AA pitching prospects. Let these guys go to Norfolk and tear up AAA pitching and then we can bring them back.

      • VICTORTEE

        March 18, 2019 at 10:09 am

        Will you admit that Elias and Hyde lied when they said there would be a competition for jobs this spring? Clearly Hays and Santander earned jobs. Whether it was a service time issue (Screwing a young player) or the need for more “experience”, performance is not determining who comes north.

  2. Schwarzstop

    March 17, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    About Hays… “look at his body of work. He has not spent much time at the Double-A level. He’s spent zero time at the Triple-A level” He’s obviously got the skills, but I agree with him going to Norfolk. Batting and fielding during Spring Training is not batting and fielding against the MLB. Give him time in Norfolk! He’s the future, not the present!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      March 17, 2019 at 1:11 pm

      I don’t believe for a second that it’s about time and seasoning in the minors. Let’s not forget that Hays ‘ “body of work” includes playing at a major college baseball level. Notre Dame product Mancini didn’t have to pay his dues for long in the bushes. Same with LSU’s Kevin Gausman … to name a few.

      No, it’s about a 40 man roster, and how adding him now would force someone else onto the waiver wire.

      So what does this say about competitive environment Elias & Hyde have been hyping? Should not talent and performance be rewarded?
      Evidently not. Hays in far and away the organizations best outfielder. He should be seeing big league pitching this year. Why wait? Oh that’s right .. they don’t want to expose anybody right now.

      • Rich Dubroff

        March 17, 2019 at 2:01 pm

        Boog, Hays has been on the 40-man roster since Sept. 2017. It’s not costing anyone a spot. Mancini spent four seasons in the minors before the was called up.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          March 17, 2019 at 6:44 pm

          Oooops. Perhaps I should check the 40 man and instead of the active roster on MLB.com from now on. Duh . Me culpa There’s a big chunk of egg on my face.

          But it still pi##es me off they sent Hays down. (and Santander)

          • Jbigle1

            March 17, 2019 at 11:06 pm

            Boog serious question who are you cutting for Santander and Hays? Hays was awful last year and the last thing we need to do is rush guys up and watch them fail. Santander sucked in the majors and minors and he didn’t hit well this spring. I don’t see any downside in sending either one down. If they tear the cover off the ball they’ll be up in short order. We’ll see Diaz and Hays at some point this summer. Patience is going to be key.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            March 18, 2019 at 9:29 am

            JBigle1 … Hays had a bad year last year because of an injury. He basically didn’t play for the bulk of the season, and when he did, he was hurt. Are you saying we have a better outfielder than Hays? If so … who do you have in mind?

            And as far as Santander not hitting well this spring, you need to look again. 333 average and a .697 OPR. He may not have had a great year last year, but let’s not forget what he did at Bowie in ’17.

            As far as who I’d cut? Let’s start with Dwight Smith & Eric Young Jr. And what about Rickard? I’d have no problem letting him go, although he has his uses. Jace Peterson, Bostick & Jace Reinheimerjingleberryschmidt would also be casualties.

    • Raymo

      March 18, 2019 at 8:30 pm

      Boog, you crack me up. How would they fit that name on a jersey?

  3. CalsPals

    March 17, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Hays was very surprising demotion, I think their actions are speaking louder than words, maybe Mr. Hyde is turning into Dr. Jekyl…..hmmm…

  4. Hallbe62

    March 17, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Enjoy the ride birds fans. The roller coaster will be leaving the gate soon. Where is Bill Veeck when you need him ??

  5. Bancells Moustache

    March 17, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I actually don’t have a problem with this. Hays was electric in 2017, but he sucked last year. How much of that was due to injury, it’s hard to say, but that’s why he should go to Norfolk. Plus, your gonna have to give Trumbo as many reps in Right as possible to get some trade value out if him.

  6. Borg

    March 17, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    I don’t see this as much of a big deal. If Hays does well in the minors and people are not performing in Baltimore, he’ll likely be up around Memorial Day. What difference does it make? They lose 105 games instead of 100? This year is not about the W-L record unless about ten people have career years right out of the gate. I bet
    Hays will get over 200 ABs at the major league level this year.

    • Rich Dubroff

      March 17, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      I bet you’re right, Borg.

  7. Camden Brooks

    March 17, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    While some of these moves surprised me, I will not pretend to know more about our baseball talent than the men hired to run this team. Some of you should do the same.

    • VICTORTEE

      March 18, 2019 at 10:14 am

      I’m curious, did you pretend to know more than Dan and Buck? Neither Elias nor Hyde has ever been the top guy. We have a right to be skeptical. I have not drank the “Orange kool aid” like a lot of people have. I will “wait and see”.

      • Bancells Moustache

        March 18, 2019 at 11:09 am

        Come now Brooks, certainly you know Orioles General Manager is the among the three most second-guessed jobs in the state of Maryland, just above Baltimore Police Commissioner and one notch below Ravens Offensive Coordinator.

  8. Bhoffman1

    March 18, 2019 at 9:19 am

    I really believe we are going in the right direction with Elias and I hope Hyde although like the players he sent down needs more seasoning. Today on Morning Joe they joked that atleast the Red Sox will finish ahead of the Orioles. We all know that we are a better team without Davis and Trumbo clogging the middle of the lineup and I assume Hyde is hoping some of the other veterans like Richard and Peterson who probably are going to make the club will perform well enough to be trade baits later in the season. I get sending down Diaz, Mountcastle even though I didn’t like it but Hays, Santlander, Carroll they are taking away some possible excitement by removing players who gave hope this spring and it just makes for boring Oriole baseball and of course losing and blowouts.

    • VICTORTEE

      March 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

      Remember the Houston model included “tanking”. Three straight years of 106+ losses. We don’t even know if Elias wants to win this year.

  9. Birdman

    March 18, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Some of these decisions may be frustrating to fans in the short run, but remember Elias’ priority is player development to achieve a competitive team in 2021 (maybe 2020, if we’re lucky) … winning 68 games this year instead of 64 isn’t the goal.

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