Orioles' Hays is healthy and his numbers reflect it; Minor league update - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Hays is healthy and his numbers reflect it; Minor league update

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

BOSTON—When Orioles outfielder Austin Hays was twice put on the 10-day injured list this season because of right hamstring strains, it seemed familiar. Over the previous three years, Hays had lost substantial time because of injuries. Now, he was hurt again.

Since his return from the second hamstring strain on June 11th, Hays has played in all but two games. He enters Sunday’s game against the Boston Red Sox with a .254 average, 21 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .768 OPS.

When he’s healthy, Hays is a force.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle that I was lacking in the big leagues, a consistent stretch of games,” Hays said. “Last year, I was finally feeling good and starting to put it together, and the season ended. The year before, the same thing, I got called up, and I was feeling really good, and the season ended.

“I’ve just been able to do it for a longer period of time this year. We’ve got a couple of weeks left. I ‘m just going to try to continue to play the way I’ve played the last two months and finish strong.”

Hays said there hasn’t been significant change to his training.

“There wasn’t anything drastic,” he said. “There might have been one or two different drills that I added into stuff that I was already doing, continuing to hit that fastball machine and try to find that rhythm and timing that just keeps you consistently barreling up fastballs and carrying that into the games. I think just that with a consistent stretch of at-bats in games without getting hurt and having to rehab and restart again … Just those two things together have helped me find my rhythm.”

In 2017, Hays’ first full season as a professional, he played 148 games at three levels, beginning at High-A Frederick before his elevation to Double-A Bowie and 20 games with the Orioles.

In 2018, Hays played just 75 games, none with the Orioles, in a season that ended because of an ankle surgery.

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In 2019, thumb and hamstring injuries limited him to 106 games, 21 with the Orioles. Last year, he missed a month because of a rib injury.

“This season definitely feels different because this is only going to be the second time that I’ve ever played 130 games in a year,” Hays said. Saturday was his 117th game in 2021.

“To finally reach the milestone of over 100 games … I was on the IL twice, and I was dealing with a lot of different stuff,” Hays said. “To be able to still put together 130 games this year, have a consistent stretch of where I felt like myself and I’ve been able to prove what I can do in the big leagues, it’s been very satisfying for me.”

Because Hays hasn’t hit well against right-handers –.219 versus .301 against left-handers — he has shared time with DJ Stewart.  During his recent 17-game hitting streak, Hays has had more success against right-handers.

“The last two months, I don’t know what it was exactly that clicked. I feel comfortable against righties,” Hays said. “I feel good against the breaking ball. I’m hitting the breaking ball a lot better when it’s in the zone. I just have to do a better job of not chasing it when it’s out of the zone. I’m feeling really good against right-handed pitchers now, and the last two months has been a big improvement for me.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said that he’s been impressed with Hays’ improvement.

“He’s had a great month,” Hyde said. “We’re happy with the progress he’s making. He’s getting a chance to play every day, and he’s had an injury-plagued career up to this point, where he hasn’t been able to get everyday at-bats. He hasn’t been able to stick in a lineup for a long period of time. He’s always had the ability and he’s playing every day, facing major league pitching … made some adjustments throughout the year, taking really good at-bats.

“Lightning fast hands, he’s unbelievably athletic. He’s a really good outfielder in three spots. He’s just maturing as a major league player.”

In the final two months of the season, Hays and the Orioles have been playing against the other four American League East team and learning from it.

“You can definitely tell, all these teams that we’re playing, they are playing for something,” Hays said. “Even if we don’t come out with a sense of urgency or have something that we’re playing for personally ourselves. These guys are playing for something. They’re not going to take it easy, and they’re not going to give anything away.

“We have to play the same way and find something deep down that we’re playing for and find a reason to come out here every day and play the game at the highest level. Me, personally, I have that with my family. I have a son now. I’m coming out every day, and I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get in the big leagues because it’s hard to get your opportunities in the big leagues.”

On Thursday night, Hays’ 10th-inning single against Yankees left-hander Wandy Peralta lifted the Orioles to a 3-2 win. After falling behind 3-0, Peralta got a strike on a changeup. Hays was looking for another and bounced a single through the infield.

“That was my first big-league walk-off so that was probably the most exciting thing for me personally that’s happened,” Hays said. “It was just a fun comeback win, too. Yeah, it was a very meaningful game.”

Centerfielder Cedric Mullins has had an exceptional season from start to finish, closing to within one home run of becoming the first Oriole to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season. Rightfielder Anthony Santander has struggled with a sprained ankle, but he also has hit 17 home runs. Hays has 21 homers and when all three are healthy, the Orioles’ outfield defense is strong. The future appears bright.

After the season ends in two weeks, Hays is going to get himself ready to take on 2022.

“I’m going to rest up early on and just make sure my body’s right and get everything in line from a long season this year,” Hays says. “It’s going to entail a lot of mobility and stretching early on, and then I’ll move into weight training. I’ll take some hunting trips in the meantime and enjoy my family time as much as I can.”

Minor league update: Bruce Zimmermann allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings on a rehab assignment in Double-A Bowie’s 9-2 loss to Altoona. The loss means that the Baysox must win on Sunday to secure a playoff berth.

Zimmermann, who is on the 60-day injured list because of a sprained right ankle, allowed five hits, struck out three and walked none. The Orioles hope he can return for at least one appearance before the end of the season on October 3rd.

Bowie had just three hits, two by shortstop Jordan Westburg, who hit his fourth home run. Shortstop Cadyn Grenier hit his ninth home run.

Blaine Knight (0-2) allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 11-4. Dean Kremer started and worked two innings, allowing a run on three hits, striking out two.

Shortstop Mason McCoy hit his ninth home run, second baseman Jahmai Jones hit a two-run homer, his 11th, and third baseman Tyler Nevin hit his 16th.

First baseman TT Bowens homered in High-A Aberdeen’s 3-2 loss to Greenville. It was Bowens’ fifth home run of the season.

Houston Roth (8-4) allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings as Low-A Delmarva lost to Salem, 11-5.

Aberdeen and Delmarva play their final games of the season on Sunday.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    September 19, 2021 at 8:02 am

    I think Hays should play every day, I get you need an occasional day off, he seems a more prototypical 2 hitter, I’d bat Mountcastle 3rd, Santander 4th & Rutschman 5th…;)…go O’s…

  2. Orial

    September 19, 2021 at 8:32 am

    Of all the things Hays brings to the table his upbeat attitude stands out. While most players role their eyes,shake their heads,or walk slow Hays pumps his fits,smiles ear to ear. Hope he maintains it and spreads it around. Like just about every Oriole it little plate discipline wouldn’t hurt him but it’s happening. Still waiting for an O’s rookie call-up from Norfolk to impress. This endless line of failure is getting old. 3 more wins for 50,can they do it?

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      September 19, 2021 at 9:03 am

      Bad news Al, chase rate is not statistically significant to OPS this season. The Orioles have the 4th highest chase rate but 9th worst OPS. Boston has the 3rd highest chase rate but 3rd best OPS. Go figure! Maybe one approach doesn’t fit all. R^2 correlation between chase rate and OPS is 7.2%, not very strong all…

      Thanks for the lil ray of sunshine line this morning – “…endless line of failure is getting old…” classic BB comment board line. I agree McKenna, Wynns, Valaika, and Wilkerson have been a bit subpar this season. Mateo’s performance might contradict your “the endless line of failure” “whoa is me” post but let’s not a single decent call-up’s performance stand in the way of a dramatic over-generalization…

      • Buzz1979

        September 19, 2021 at 1:23 pm

        Wilkerson had no business being here in the first place, that ship had sailed, and failed, twice already!

    • Icterus fan

      September 19, 2021 at 11:15 am

      Great post, Orial. Agree the losing grows tiresome.
      Yep, hoping they can get to 50 wins myself, not that is matters much.

  3. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    September 19, 2021 at 8:48 am

    So nice to see Hays having a successful season. He has been playing everyday, only missing one complete game the last three months – he played in all 22 games in July, starting 18; he played in all 28 games in August, starting 24; he has played in 16 of the O’s 17 games this September, starting all 16. Really enjoying Hays excellent OBP and SLG this month. Mullins and Hays will hopefully be a strong OF duo for many years to come.

  4. 33d St

    September 19, 2021 at 11:28 am

    MLB should seriously consider a permanent 28 man roster. Obviously we’re never gonna go back to the days of a 10 or 11 man pitching staff.

    Since there are so few guys in the world who can get 15 batters out every five days, or relievers who can pitch more than 2 innings a week, oversize pitching staffs are crowding out any chance of position players being able to rest through their injuries.

    The game is much less interesting from a fan perspective as well. Managers have very little room to maneuver. You can’t platoon, you can hardly pinch hit. The only moves you can make are with your bullpen.

    As a fan I’m for more interested in seeing a healthy Hayes and healthy Santander than I am in seeing the endless regurgitation of anonymous relievers just up from AAA for the 6th time this year, or just claimed off waivers etc.

    • dlgruber1

      September 19, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      33rd St, that’s a very good idea. With the CBA expiring and a new agreement coming before next season (hopefully) I think that’s something the players union should look into. I know, I know, the owners (especially Angelos) won’t wanna add to more major league salaries to the payroll but it’s not like they’d be high priced players. I really like that idea.

  5. Bman

    September 19, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Glad to see Hays thriving. Totally agree he just needed to stay healthy and get regular at bats. He and Mullins should be solid going forward. Mountcastle has had a great year. ROY consideration in my opinion. Santander just needs to get over the injury bug and he should be fine. Do they trade or re-sign Mancini? Rutschman will be up next year. Mateo might be a steal. And will probably see Stowers, Westburg, Vavra, maybe Ortiz. Cowser will shoot through the minors too. Future is looking bright.

    • Bhoffman1

      September 20, 2021 at 6:03 am

      Bright what about pitching

  6. Buzz1979

    September 19, 2021 at 11:52 am

    Kendrys Morales says “don’t get hurt celebrating, my amigo!”

  7. dlgruber1

    September 19, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    I’m watching the game now and I just wanna say this. Mountcastle has received a lot of credit for his offensive numbers he’s put up in his rookie season, and deservedly so, but I don’t think he’s received nearly enough credit for the defense he’s played at first base. He was tagged as an all hit no glove player but I think it’s time to toss that out. He’s turned himself into a solid defender and it needs to be said. Yet another reason for him to be considered for Rookie of the Year.

    • CalsPals

      September 19, 2021 at 2:02 pm

      Totally agree DL, great call…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      September 20, 2021 at 6:04 am

      That’s good to hear didn’t know his defense was good at first

  8. Buzz1979

    September 19, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Good thing we swept the Sux in the season opening series!

  9. AkronOhioOriole1

    September 19, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    #1 pick is in sight.

    • dlgruber1

      September 19, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      Don’t count D-Backs out. After today their remaining games are 4 vs Braves, 3 vs Dodgers and 3 vs Giants. They could conceivably not win another game.

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