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Machado homers in Frederick debut

Orioles top prospect connects in second at-bat with Keys
June 23, 2011
It took Manny Machado one at-bat to prove what everyone in the Orioles' organization already knew: he was ready.

Baltimore's top prospect homered in the third inning of his Class A Advanced debut on Thursday, but the Frederick Keys fell to the visiting Winston-Salem Dash, 2-1.

"I was just trying to be patient and stay up," Machado said. "He threw me a fastball and I was sitting on it. I just put some good wood on it."

The No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 Draft connected off Dash starter Cameron Bayne for his first Carolina League home run and seventh this season. It was his only hit in four at-bats on the same day he was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game.

News leaked last week that Machado might be promoted following his appearance in Tuesday's South Atlantic All-Star Game. Sure enough, he got the word Tuesday night.

"It was great to get that call after the All-Star game," he said. "I'm excited to be here."

Machado, who missed significant time with a knee injury last month, hit .276 with six homers and 24 RBIs with Class A Delmarva in his first full season in the Minors. He spent brief stints last year at short-season Aberdeen and with the O's affiliate in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Now a step closer to Baltimore, the 18-year-old shortstop from Miami is soaking it all in, one pitch at a time.

"It was just good to go play ball. Everyone here knows what I can do," he said. "It was good to just go out there and get the first game out of the way."

Machado popped up to third base with a runner at first in his first at-bat, but -- facing Bayne a second time -- he smashed a one-out drive to left in the third, putting the Keys up, 1-0. He flied out to left in the fifth and struck out to end the eighth.

Homer or not, Machado admitted the pitching in the Carolina League was a notch above what he saw in Delmarva.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "They're around the plate, they weren't missing by much. There's definitely better pitchers here."'s preseason No. 24 prospect praised Delmarva manager Ryan Minor and batting coach Jose Hernandez for the help they provided in his first taste of full-season ball.

"We had great coaching down there. Ryan and Jose, they took care of me and I learned a lot from those guys," he said. "I learned a lot and appreciated it. Now this is the next step in learning the game a little more."

Machado said meeting his new teammates at the Harry Grove Stadium on Thursday was a comfortable experience -- he already knew many of them.

"I met these guys at Spring Training games, so I know most of them," he said. "And they're excited to have me here."

Machado, who will be immortalized with his own bobble head on July 1 in Delmarva, will join fellow O's prospect Jonathan Schoop in Arizona next month for the All-Star Futures Game, a showcase of the best talent in the Minors a day before the Major League All-Star Game. Rosters for the game were announced earlier Thursday.

"I'm very excited for that," he said. "Can't wait."

It'll also be a step up from the Sally League All-Star Game he played in on Tuesday. That, though, didn't go unappreciated.

"It was great to meet all those guys," he said. "It's great to play in any kind of All-Star Game."

Danny Wild is an editor for