Austin Hays‘ rebellion against minor league pitching was so alarming this past year that Jon Jay began arguing for a stronger centralized league office to ratify the MLB Constitution, and guarantee no prospect could take down the major leagues through sheer moxie. “Your moxie is manifest, and we call on Washington to leave his family home in Mount Vernon and return to public life.” That’s Jon Jay arguing to team representatives about UL Washington, who was minding his own business in Virginia. “Say what now?” That’s UL Washington as he sips sweet tea. Then again, it might be because I went to see Hamilton this past weekend. Of course, this rebellion I’m speaking of — the Hays’ Rebellion — thrust Austin Hays from also-ran minor leaguer to full-blown Trey Mancini clone. I will call him Robotcini. So, what can we expect from Austin Hays for 2018 fantasy baseball?
As a Seminole, Austin Hays hit six homers in 42 games, while batting .382, as a freshman. Since he was in a Florida college, I will also assume he got more tail than a guy with a filled Red Lobster stamp card. Glory, glory Halle Berrylujah, for Florida colleges. He then moved to Jacksonville — a love ’em and leave ’em kinda guy, I suppose — and hit 3 HRs and .271 in 56 games as a 19-year-old. Snooze. You suck. Go home and work in your dad’s bait and tackle store! But wait, there’s more! He was drafted by the Orioles, because they’re taking in flyers like a hockey fan in Philly. This is when Hays began to rebel. He hit .336 and four dingers in only 38 games, and the O’s scratched their chin and were like, “Hey, maybe we backed into something.” Backed they did, because he then broke out at the age of 21. He hit 32 HRs (!) and .329 across High-A and Double-A in 128 games — 16 HRs in High-A, 16 HRs in Double-A and .328 vs. .330. The stats for him at both stops are nearly identical. Spooky! Prospector Ralph said, “You want to see a model of consistency? Look at Hays’ slashline from 64 games in High A (.328/.364/.591), then look at his slashline from 64 AA games (.330/.367/.594). That’s some weird statistical OCD! Hays is a contact over approach player with plus-power in the mold of a Willie Calhoun-type. He’s been the biggest offensive breakout in the minors this season, and, speaking of offensive, Grey looks like he smells.” Hey! Impressed with his makeup like a judge at RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ralph put him 20th on his top 50 prospects for 2018 fantasy baseball. One big plus that hasn’t been mentioned that I will mention after saying I haven’t mentioned it, he looks like the starting right fielder heading into the offseason. Of course, the O’s could sign someone, but they have a nice core of young players — Mancini, Machado, Beckham and Schoop — so I think Hays, uh, plays, but I will be conservative and say Hays, uh, stays down until June. For 2018, I’ll give Austin Hays the projections of 54/17/67/.270/6 in 334 ABs, with a Chance Sisco for more.