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Top Prospects Aim For Good Health In 2019

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Two of the Orioles’ top prospects had to be shut down because of injuries, with one requiring surgery and the other trying again to avoid it.

Double-A Bowie outfielder Austin Hays had a procedure on Sept. 13 in Wisconsin to repair a fracture and some cartilage defects in his left ankle.

Dr. Robert Anderson inserted two screws in the ankle and performed a bone graft, and the 23-year-old Hays is expected to be ready for spring training.

"There were no surprises and they expect a full recovery,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's kind of good that he got it done now and gets it behind him. It’s just one of those years . . . it’s been something with him the whole year. It’s been frustrating.”

Hays was named the Orioles’ minor league player of the year in 2017 after batting a combined .329/.365/.593 with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs in 128 games at Bowie and high Class A Frederick.

He made his major league debut last September but never got back to Baltimore in 2018. He hit just .242/.271/.432 in 66 games at Bowie this season. The year began with Hays sidelined in spring training with a sore shoulder, and the ankle injury lingered through much of the summer.

"Before this year he had one of the best minor league seasons of anybody—so it’s there,” Showalter said.

Righthander Hunter Harvey was shut down again while throwing on flat ground in Sarasota, Fla, after experiencing more soreness in his right elbow. The 2013 first-round pick made just nine starts with Bowie because of a shoulder injury and soreness in his forearm and elbow.

The 23-year-old registered a 5.57 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 32.1 innings. He had Tommy John surgery in 2016.

"It was a disappointment for Hunter,” Showalter said. "I just feel for him. He’s such a talented young man and a talented pitcher . . .

"We were hoping and thinking it was behind us. It was tough. We were expecting him to maybe be impacting our team the second half. But that possibility is still there, and to me that’s another good thing that could be on the horizon for us is Hunter getting all the issues behind him. I’m looking at it half-full instead of half-empty.”

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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (9/3/19)

Our final regular season hot sheet ranks the 20 hottest prospects in baseball, beginning with Joey Bart.

BIRD SEED

>> Lefthanders Keegan Akin and Zac Lowther shared the Jim Palmer Award given by the Orioles to their top minor league pitcher. Akin went 14-7, 3.27 with a career-high 142 strikeouts and 14 quality starts for Double-A Bowie and was the Eastern League's pitcher of the year. Lowther went a combined 8-4, 2.18 in 22 starts (23 games) between low Class A Delmarva and high Class A Frederick. His 151 strikeouts led all Orioles minor leaguers.

>> The Orioles included 2018 first-round righthander Grayson Rodriguez on their instructional league roster. The 11th overall selection out of Central Heights High in Nacogdoches, Texas, recorded a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He struck out 20 batters.

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