Orioles Player Profile: Austin Hays
Austin Hays was born on July 5, 1995. He was drafted with the 91st overall pick of the 2016 draft by the Orioles. After the draft, Hays played for the Aberdeen Iron Birds, batting .336 with four home runs in his 38 games there. He began 2017 with the Frederick Keys, once hitting three home runs in a game. In June of that year, he was promoted to Double A Bowie, completing his minor league season batting .329 with 32 home runs. His fantastic season in the minors, earned Hays a promotion to the Orioles in September of 2017. Hays began 2018 in Bowie batting only .224 by May. An ankle injury derailed his season at the end of the month and he finished the season with only 327 at bats, batting .235 with 12 home runs.
Hays is looking to rebound in 2019, and figures to make his mark on a team that is in full-blown rebuilding mode. The Orioles have a crowded young outfield, but Hays is using a hot spring to help push himself into playing time. Hays currently leads the club with five home runs in 37 at bats while batting .351.
The power resurgence is very encouraging for Hays, as his injury riddled 2018 saw him drive the ball with less power. If Hays can return to 2017 form, he boasts plus raw power, plus arm strength, above-average bat control, speed and defense in right field. He is a free swinger, with heavy pull tendencies, making him susceptible to the shift. Hays’ swing and body type has been compared to Josh Donaldson, with a big leg kick, among other similarities.
Hays could be in for a major bounce back season as the Orioles will be looking for sources of power. He will need to continue his hot spring to force his way into the crowded Orioles outfield and continue to play well at the Major League level to hold off some of the young Orioles that are waiting in the wings.