Machado's Bat Living Up To The Hype For Orioles

BALTIMORE—The Orioles would prefer to reduce the amount of hype surrounding prized shortstop Manny Machado.

If only he would cooperate.

Machado is making it impossible to ignore him. He was batting .333/.445/.611 in his first 90 at-bats for at low Class A Delmarva, with six doubles, two triples, five homers and 21 RBIs.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Machado's home runs have been tape-measure shots, one ball clearing the scoreboard at his home ballpark. He went through a stretch where he hit five homers and drove in 12 runs over seven games.

Believe the hype.

"At the plate, he's been a pleasant surprise for the most part," said Delmarva manager Ryan Minor, a former Orioles third baseman best known for replacing Cal Ripken on the night that baseball's Iron Man ended his record consecutive-games streak.

"I didn't think coming in that you could expect him to put up huge, gaudy numbers. He's starting to hit fastballs inside, at the inner third of the plate, with authority. And he's taking some pitches that you wouldn't think an 18-year-old would take against good, quality college arms. Offensively, the guy's only going to improve, and as he gets stronger, he'll have more power numbers."

Machado was sidelined in early May after dislocating his kneecap while running the bases. The Orioles did not believe the injury to be serious and placed him on the seven-day disabled list.

Before going down, Machado, the third overall pick in last June's draft, was named the South Atlantic League's player of the week for April 25-May 1 after batting .480 (12-for-25) with two doubles, five homers, 12 RBIs and seven runs scored. He's also playing a solid shortstop.

"So far in the field, he's been everything I expected defensively," Minor said. "He has great hands, good feet and is really mature for his age out there. You wouldn't expect him to handle certain situations the way he has, which is a credit to his athletic ability and baseball instincts.

"I've talked to him on several different occasions about different situations, and he picks it up right away and goes right out and does it. One little thing in the infield that we noticed, we talked to him for two or three minutes, and the next four or five nights in a row he put it in play and did what we asked and it made him a better ballplayer."

Bird Seed

• The Orioles received catcher John Hester from the Diamondbacks to complete the Dec. 6 trade that sent third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore for relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Hester, who was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk, was batting .263/.326/.421 with one homer and five RBIs in 38 at-bats for Triple-A Reno.

• Double-A Bowie righthander Zach Clark was named the Eastern League's pitcher of the week for April 25-May 1. Clark was 2-0, 1.38 in two starts.