BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have given fans reason for hope for the future in September and Austin Hays is one of the biggest reasons why. Hays, who was called up to Baltimore as part of roster expansion, was honored as the Orioles' MLB Pipeline Hitting Prospect of the Year. Alex Wells, named Baltimore's Jim Player Minor League Pitcher of the Year last month, was also selected as Pipeline's Top Pitching Prospect.
Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list and played the entire year in the organization.
Candidates were taken from each club's Top 30 Prospects list, with a combination of performance and prospect status taken into account. The end result is an impressive list of 60 names to keep an eye on.
Hays, ranked as the O's No. 2 prospect, had a breakout season in the Minors that saw him post a .329/.365/.593 slash line between Bowie and Class A Advanced Frederick. In 128 games between the two levels, the 22-year-old produced 69 extra-base hits, including 32 home runs, second most in the Minors, and 95 RBIs while scoring 81 runs.
Hays has been a model of consistency this season, posting strikingly similar numbers at the plate while playing in exactly 64 games at each level. He began the season by slashing .328/.364/.592 with 16 home runs in the Florida State League, and then built on that performance with a .330/.367/.594 clip and 16 more homers at Bowie. The Orioles selected Hays in the third round of the 2016 Draft as a junior out of Jacksonville University.
Wells spent the season pitching for the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds. The 20-year-old, whom the O's signed out of Australia, posted a 2.38 ERA over 25 starts.
He issued just 10 walks, including none in his last 68 innings.
What's most impressive about Wells is that he carried a sub-1.00 WHIP for the entire season.
According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report on Wells, he "pitches with an average fastball, operating in the upper 80s and scraping 90 mph, but the pitch plays up due to his ability to command it to both sides of the plate. His changeup registers in the low 80s with good fading action, and he sells it with fastball-like arm action. Wells has also made strides with his curveball, a 12-to-6 downer in the mid-70s, since turning pro, giving him a quality third pitch, and his whole arsenal plays up due to his above-average control."
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.