The 18-year-old hope of the Orioles, wearing his second pro team uniform in four days, joined the Aberdeen IronBirds on the field Monday for their last week of play this season.
Manny Machado was selected by the Orioles with the third overall pick in this year’s draft, and continued a whirlwind two weeks with a likely brief stop in Aberdeen after being called up Sunday from the Gulf Coast League Orioles.
Starting at shortstop against the Vermont Lake Monsters, Machado singled in the bottom of the third, popped out to second base in the bottom of the first, and flied out to left in the bottom of the fifth inning as Aberdeen’s bullpen surrendered eight runs in the 11-5 loss.
Before the game, Machado took questions from reporters for approximately 10 minutes, covering his childhood in the Miami area and his goals for the short time remaining in the 2010 season.[audio:http://www.daggerpress.com/wp-content/uploads/MachadoCrunch2.mp3]
Machado said it was difficult being away from his family, and said he felt rusty after a long summer away from baseball. The Orioles signed their top pick to a $5.25 million deal on August 17, just three minutes before a midnight deadline.
Machado began his pro career with the GCL Orioles, seeing action as the designated hitter in games on Friday and Saturday. He went 1-for-7 in the two games, his only hit coming as a two-run homerun on Saturday.
“For now I’m just getting used to the professional life,” he said. “Just going out there every day and giving 100 percent. Next year will be a different goal. For this year it’s just go out there, have fun, get used to it.”
Machado’s style of play has drawn comparisons to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, himself a much-hyped shortstop phenom out of high school. But during his tenure with the Orioles, he’ll more likely be compared to IronBirds owner Cal Ripken Jr. Machado said he hasn’t spoken to Ripken yet, but draws some inspiration from his example.
“I’m just going to have to go out there and give 110 percent, just like he did,” he said. “If I do get compared to him…it will be good.”
The Hialeah, Fla. native’s family hails from the Dominican Republic, and Machado said he grew up dreaming of being a professional baseball player. While also playing football as a quarterback and basketball as a point guard, Machado said he put baseball first, spending long hours working on his skills with his uncle, Geovanny Brito.
“I was rarely outside with my friends,” he said. “I was always on the ballfield with my uncle. And it just came naturally. I always knew I would be [a professional ballplayer] one day.”
More recently, Machado has worked out over the last few days with former Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick, who works with the team as a minor league instructor. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was also in attendance at Ripken Stadium Monday to take a look at Machado and a few of the club’s other prospects.
Showing a bit of the swagger of a top pick, Machado said he expects he’ll join the big-league ballclub at a relatively young age, comparable to the Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward, who debuted with the team at age 20.
For now though, he said he’s looking forward to playing out the season and getting the most out of the IronBirds’ few remaining games.
“I’m excited for tonight,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”[audio:http://www.daggerpress.com/wp-content/uploads/MachadoCrunch2.mp3]