O's No. 2 prospect Hays joins outfield mix

O's No. 2 prospect Hays joins outfield mix

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles added one of their most exciting young prospects on Tuesday, selecting the contract of Austin Hays from Double-A Bowie. The outfielder is the club's No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.

Hays, 22, was the Orioles' third-round pick last year and is having a fantastic season. He hit 32 homers with 95 RBIs in 128 games split between Class A Advanced Frederick and Double-A Bowie. The move saw lefty Jayson Aquino designated for assignment.

It will be interesting to see how the O's use Hays -- one of five finalists for Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year Award -- with expanded rosters. Hays has spent a lot of time in center field this season after primarily playing right field last year.

Hays starred as a freshman at Seminole State (Fla.) before transferring to Jacksonville, where he had a average campaign in 2015. He got back on track the following year as he paced the Atlantic Sun Conference in home runs (16), and the Orioles made him their third-round pick that June.

Hays continued to hit well in his pro debut, hitting .336 with a team-high four homers in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League, and he emerged as one of the Minors' top breakout prospects this year while reaching Double-A.

According to MLBPipeline.com's scouting report: "Hays makes the ball jump off his bat with above-average bat speed and a short, handsy swing from the right side of the plate. Hays doesn't waste a lot of motion and has shown the ability to drive the ball across the whole field. Scouts believe he'll develop into an above-average hitter with similar power, and he's shown plenty of over-the-fence thump across two levels in his first full season."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.