Orioles give prospect Hays a start in center

Orioles give prospect Hays a start in center

NEW YORK -- Orioles September callup Austin Hays got his first start in center field on Friday night at Yankee Stadium, giving the organization a closer look at the young outfielder, who had one of the best seasons a team could ask for in the Minor Leagues.

"I don't know what the right word is. I think it's a good opportunity for him. I hope he takes advantage," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Hays spelling Adam Jones in center. "He will be facing one of the best pitchers in baseball [in Luis Severino]. Somebody might say, 'Maybe you should wait.' Well, it's the big leagues. That's who you face."

Hays made just one previous start since coming up earlier this month, though this is his first time in center field. The 22-year-old Hays, who batted .329 with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs in 128 games equally divided between Double-A Bowie and Class A Advanced Frederick, is rated the O's No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.

Hays could be a factor in Baltimore as early as next spring, with the general consensus that the outfielder will be the organization's recipient of the Minor League Player of the Year Award.

Jones, who got a day to rest legs that took a beating playing three days earlier this week on Rogers Centre's turf in Toronto, is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday.

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.