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Orioles outfielder Austin Hays, whose breakout season is ending with a September call-up and the opportunity to get regular big league innings down the stretch, has been named the organization’s Brooks Robinson minor league player of the year.

Hays, who went from being drafted to making the majors in a 16-month span, emerged as one of the Orioles’ top prospects this season, hitting .329/.365/.593 with 32 doubles, five triples, 32 homers and 95 RBIs between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie.

Hays’ season also earned him national recognition as one of five finalists for Baseball America’s minor league player of the year award.

He was promoted to the majors Sept. 5 and has started each of the past six games for the Orioles in right field. He is 7-for-27 with two doubles, one homer and five RBIs.

As part of the Orioles’ other minor league organizational awards announced Thursday, Bowie catcher Austin Wynns is the recipient of the Elrod Hendricks Community Service Award.

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According to the Orioles, Wynns participated as an instructor for multiple youth baseball camps throughout the season and served as one of the main speakers for a Baysox community event that gave fans the opportunity to interact with players.

Bowie hitting coach Butch Davis received the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award and East Coast Scouting Supervisor Kirk Fredriksson won the Jim Russo Scout of the Year award.

Orioles in September
Browse photos of the Orioles in September 2017.
The Orioles will recognize the minor league winners — as well as Eastern League Most Valuable Player and batting champion Garabez Rosa, Carolina League MVP Ademar Rifaela and Carolina League batting champion Ryan Mount castle — in an on-field ceremony before Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Delmarva left-hander Alex Wells was previously named the Jim Palmer minor league pitcher of the year and was recognized before a recent home game before returning home to Australia.

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Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is very close to being activated after missing 2 1/2 months with a fractured wrist and arm soreness, but he said Monday that he’s still feeling some pain above his elbow when he swings a bat.

“Throwing is fine,’’ he said, “but I can still feel it when I hit.”

Hardy added, however, that he will be ready to play as soon as manager Buck Showalter is ready to add him to the roster — something Showalter said could be as soon as Tuesday for the second game of the series against the New York Yankees.
“Let’s see how he recovers from the work today, but I’m hoping his activation is imminent,” Showalter said. “We’ll be able to define that tomorrow when we talk to him. We’ve been playing day game, day game. Tomorrow will be the first time we have a little longer turnaround from today to tomorrow. I think we’ll have a pretty good idea what we’re dealing with. I hope we’re in position to activate him tomorrow.”

Whether it’s Tuesday or a day or two later, Hardy clearly wants to get back out there and said he’s able to hit right now in spite of the soreness. He said he would likely limit his non-game-action swings until he’s pain-free.

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Castillo still in there: Showalter said Sunday that he might use Welington Castillo as the designated hitter for Monday’s game, but decided to start him again because he’s on such an offensive roll and because he wanted to keep Joey Rickard in right field.

“I thought about it, but I like Joey in right field, especially in a day game,’’ he said. “It’s tough out there. There are certain heights and certain balls that if they get in the sun it doesn’t matter who’s out there you’re not going to catch them. That’s true about every field. There are places at Yankee Stadium where you don’t want the ball to go to.”

So, Castillo started behind the plate again and hit his fifth home run in seven games and his 19th of the season, tying a career high. Over his past 11 games, he is batting .404 with six homers and 11 RBIs, and could be a candidate for American League Player of the Week after batting .500 (12-for-24) with four homers and eight RBIs.

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Around the horn: Tim Beckham’s homer in the first inning was the third leadoff homer of his career, all of them coming in the past month with the Orioles. … Mark Trumbo singled in the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to six games. He’s batting .357 over that span.