ORIOLES CALL UP MACHADO

The Baltimore Orioles called up INF Manny Machado, the third overall pick of the 2010 draft, on Thursday and he started at 3B against the Royals. Machado batted in the ninth spot and went 2-for-4 with a triple and run scored in Baltimore’s 8-2 loss to Kansas City.

Machado sits at #9 on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects list while MLB.com has him at  #3 on their 2012 Prospect Watch list.

Machado was playing at AA Bowie of the Eastern League at the time of his callup and through 109 games he had a line of .266/.352/.438. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, especially for someone drafted so high and thought to have such a high ceiling. But the 20-year old was called up to play 3B, a position where the O’s are lacking, especially on defense.

There is a lot of debate about the move. The Orioles have been surging lately and are positioned in a wild-card spot, while the Yankees are slumping a bit which even puts the division in play. Given the poor history of the once-proud Baltimore franchise over the last decade, this is a great position to be in.

The concern is that rushing Machado to the majors in the heat of a pennant race will put too much pressure on the youngster and ruin him in the long run. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun doesn’t doesn’t think so. It really depends on Machado’s mental makeup, as his physical tools are universally praised as top-notch. He’s not going to go 2-for-4 every night and there will be errors at third. He’s the darling now but when he struggles and if the Orioles fall out of contention, the good vibe will wash away pretty quick.

I don’t think it hurts to bring him up, but with only 800 minor league AB’s, he will have to be special to stay there and put up what has been projected for him. His draft position says he is. The jump from AA isn’t a problem, I would just like to have seen him excel there, rather than go .266 with 11 homers in 402 ABs. In two-plus seasons at various minor-league levels, Machado didn’t put up the kind of numbers expected of the #3 overall draft pick. He hit consitently in the mediocre range and was moved up to the next level where he did the same. Now he’s in the bigs.

There’s nothing wrong with seeing what he can do to upgrade over Wilson Betemit, Mark Reynolds and the other third basemen the Orioles have run out there this year. But expecting him to take over and be the everyday third basemen, the All-Star caliber player that his draft slot implies he will be, is asking a lot. Let’s see how this callup goes.