In the most hyped debut for an Orioles’ prospect since Matt Wieters back in 2009, Manny Machado went 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored in tonight’s 8-2 loss to the Royals.
Machado, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, started at third base and batted ninth. After grounding out to shortstop in his first at-bat in the second inning, he led off the fifth with an opposite-field triple to the right-center field gap and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Nick Markakis. Interestingly enough, Wieters’ first major league hit was also a triple.
Machado reached on an infield single in the seventh inning after beating out a slow roller to second base. He had a chance at a third hit in the ninth inning, but popped out behind second base for the final out of the ballgame. The 20-year-old looked pretty comfortable at third base despite making just two pro starts there prior to tonight’s game. Wilson Betemit should still get some playing time at the hot corner against some right-handed starters, but the O’s didn’t bring Machado up to have him sit on the bench.
Wei-Yin Chen had his worst start as a member of the Orioles tonight, giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. Billy Butler fell a single short of the cycle for the Royals, collecting a three-run homer, a double and his first triple since 2009. “Country Breakfast” had two chances for the elusive single, but he struck out swinging in his final two at-bats.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Orioles, who now sit at 60-52 on the year. They are currently 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and are in a flat-footed tie with the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.