Manny Machado could join the Orioles as soon as next weekend

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Manny Machado’s road back from knee surgery is almost complete.

Machado is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with High-A Frederick, but Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun hears that the Orioles are projecting a possible return during their three-game series against the Twins next weekend in Minnesota.

This is a tentative plan, as the Orioles still want to see how Machado responds to playing three games with Frederick. If all goes well, he’ll likely move have one final test in Double-A or Triple-A before joining the big club.

Position players are permitted to spend up to 21 days on a minor league rehab assignment, but Machado has already logged more than 30 at-bats between simulated and extended spring training games. Assuming no issues with his surgically-repaired right knee, he shouldn’t need much time to shake the rust.

Machado, 21, batted .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, and 71 RBI in 156 games last season prior to tearing the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee in late September. He won his first Gold Glove Award after the season for his excellent defense at the hot corner. The Orioles are hoping that the best is yet to come.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.