Today begins a new era for the Baltimore Orioles. This evening Manny Machado will start third base and bat ninth for the Birds.
If you stayed up late last night the word rang out through the twitter-verse and frankly I couldn't believe it. I didn't believe it at first. After reading this story earlier this month I thought initially that the Orioles' twitter account was hacked. But confirmation soon followed by shocked beat writers and bloggers.
The 20 year-old Machado was the Orioles' first round pick in 2010. He has had a solid year in the minors and has come on strong in recent weeks. Currently batting .266/.352/.438/.789 with 11 homeruns in just over 100 games and 400 ABs at AA Bowie. Certainly not tearing the cover off the ball, his numbers are not begging for him to get called up.
As the Orioles completed a sweep the Mariners last night the Orioles are suddenly looking as strong as they have ever appeared this season. The addition of the young top BA number 11 prospect infielder seems questionable at first blush. Why would the Orioles rush this player, a prospect that the team is really counting on for the longterm? I don't know if Machado is being rushed, per se, but this move definitely is one of the most aggressive moves the Orioles have made in a long time.
There is little obvious reason to bring up Machado, save one - the Orioles are going all in. Right now the team is nine games over .500, only 4.5 games behind the first place Yankees and tied for one of two wildcard spots.This team has exceeded all expectations and is poised to do something very special as summer melts into fall. Brining up Machado shows the team, and the fans, that Duquette is willing to do anything it takes to squeeze every last drop of production from the bodies he has in this organization.
Lost in the hoopla, Dylan Bundy was promoted to AA Bowie. If the Orioles are still in the heat of a playoff race in September you can bet that Bundy will be called up for the final push.
A new era begins tonight. It is truly an exciting time to be a fan of this team.