Name: Manuel Arturo Machado
Position: Third Base
Drafted: 1st round, 2010, Baltimore Orioles
Became an Oriole: The only O's All Star drafted and developed by the team.
How he got to the ASG: Selected by the players as a reserve
When Manny Machado was called up on August 9th to play third base for the surprisingly good team Baltimore Orioles, it was a move met by excitement but uncertainty by the fans. What if he wasn't ready? Third base isn't even his natural position! Maybe it's better to just wait!
Those were all valid concerns, but it turns out that GM Dan Duquette knew what he was doing (that or his gamble paid off, you be the judge). Machado had played just two games at third base in the minors, but from the get go he looked born to play the position. And after watching butchers like Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds bumbling around the hot corner, Machado's grace and natural talent was like a godsend to the Orioles and their fans.
Despite a good rookie season, Machado's success in 2013 has been a huge surprise. His outstanding defense has gotten even better. His 22 defensive runs saved (DRS) this season and a Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 24.7are both tops in the American League, and he also leads the league in plays that make you swoon.
Just as impressive as his defensive skills have been what he's been able to do at the plate. A bit of a sophomore swoon would have been expected and not something worth panicking about, but instead the player that just turned 21 a few weeks ago has been a key part of the Orioles offense and is hitting doubles at an astounding pace. He's currently and is on pace for 65 on the season. He has cooled down a bit heading into the break, but nothing he's done yet has led anyone to believe that he won't bounce back.
It's been a long time since the Orioles have had such a young, exciting star on their hands. And one that his homegrown, no less.
This is what I meant by plays that make you swoon: