Things have been very exciting in Baltimore for the Orioles already this season, and they are about to have another reason for people around baseball to pay attention to them this season. The Orioles are calling up top prospect Manny Machado, according to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.
It is certainly an intriguing move to bring the 20-year-old Machado to the major leagues. He was in his first season at Double-A this year and putting up pretty good numbers, but he was not dominating the level.
Through 108 games, Machado had put up a .266/350/.461 triple slash line along with 10 home runs, 58 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He has also shown fairly good plate discipline, as he had a 10.3 BB percentage and a 15.4 K percentage (h/t FanGraphs). Machado did put up an impressive 120 wRC+ this year, according to FanGraphs.
Even though he was able to produce at the Double-A level, Machado is making a big jump to the major leagues. It will be interesting to see how he handles it. Machado has the tools to be successful, but he might not be able to hold his own against major league pitchers this season.
There were high expectations for Machado since the day he was drafted. He has been ranked as the 14th- and 11th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America during the past two seasons, respectively (via Baseball-Reference). Machado has also been compared to current New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (h/t Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun). Rodriguez made his major league debut at 18 years old; Machado will have a chance to show what he can do at age 20.
Machado may be young, but there has certainly been a precedent set in recent years of top prospects having success in the big leagues. Both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have been able to produce at the major league level despite being significantly younger than many of the pitchers that they face.
While the Orioles likely would have liked Machado to have more time in the minor leagues, the fact that they are in contention for a wild-card spot may have had an impact on their decision. Baltimore is closing in on the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East.
Dan Duquette, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, has seemed to indicate that Machado will be playing third base for the Orioles (h/t Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun).
Given the struggles that Baltimore Orioles third basemen have had this season, they could believe that Machado is currently the best player that they have at the position. Their third basemen have put up a triple slash line of .246/.319/.405 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI.
While Machado may be an improvement on offense, it is uncertain how effective he will be defensively. He played third base for the first time in the minors this season, and he only has two games under his belt at the position. Playing the hot corner is certainly a challenge, and Machado will have to prove himself in the middle of a pennant race.
Calling Machado up is a bit of a risk by the Orioles, but they are in the position to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Without risk, there is no reward, and the Orioles are certainly willing to pull out all of the stops to reach the postseason.