(Getty Images)He turned 20 years old just a month ago, his primary position of shortstop seems to be blocked by another player and he wasn't exactly dominating at Double-A. But to heck with all that, say the Baltimore Orioles.
Welcome to the major leagues, Manny Machado!
The O's announced late on Wednesday that they are promoting Machado, the third overall draft pick in 2010, when the Nationals took Bryce Harper first. Machado has played 219 games in the minors, and only 109 above Single-A. He was batting .266/.352/.438 with 11 homers, 26 doubles, five triples, 48 walks and 13 stolen bases for Bowie of the Eastern League. Those are good numbers — especially for someone who was just 19 years old until July 6 — and are a good indicator of future big-league success. He will be the eighth player drafted in the first round in '10 to make the majors, but he's the first high schooler from that crop to make that jump. (Remember that Harper had one year of junior college under his belt.)
But bringing him up now? With seven weeks left in the season, when the Orioles are in a playoff race and needing a boost? Do the O's expect a Harper- or Mike Trout-level performance out of Machado?
Harper and Trout are freaks (that's meant in a good way). Harper made the NL All-Star team, but has struggled mightily in the second half due to illness, injuries and fatigue. Trout might win the AL MVP, but he's also nearly two years older than Machado. The Orioles have been outscored by their opponents, yet remarkably are nine games over .500 in the AL East. They're still looking for help, preferably offense.
Machado might be able to help with his glove, too, but what about his position? J.J. Hardy has bottomed out at short after having a great season in 2011, and Wilson Betemit's hitting has been about average at third base. Would the O's bench Hardy and play Machado at short? Probably not. Analyst Kevin Goldstein said his sources say Machado will play third base most of the time, with shortstop still being his ultimate spot. Betemit isn't much defensively so no loss there.
Being called up now probably won't hurt Machado in the long run, and might even help him. But will it do anything for the Orioles' chances of making the playoffs?