Shorebird of the Week – May 24, 2012

While this is his third tour of duty with the Shorebirds, this is the first time Mychal Givens may be showing flashes of the potential which made the Orioles spend a second-round pick on him back in 2009. Until now, the Tampa-born high school phenom hadn’t made a successful splash at this level, putting together a .222 average in 7 games here in 2010 (his initial season), a putrid .195/0/15/.488 OPS here last year before being demoted to Aberdeen at mid-season, and until recently just a .183 mark in his first 34 games this year.

Suddenly, though, everything seems to be going right for the young Givens, who just turned 22 earlier this month. An 8-for-13 tear through Hagerstown and Lakewood has put Givens well on the right side of the Mendoza line, bumping his batting average up to a more respectable .230 mark. Considering he put up a .279/1/30/.698 OPS line in a league-leading 74 games after his Aberdeen demotion last season and followed it up with a gaudy .352/5/18/.934 OPS with the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League over the winter, this breakout may have been long overdue.

Still there’s a long way to go for Mychal, who has the weight of being a high draft choice on his shoulders. On the other hand, he’s probably a little ahead of the level where he would be had he played college ball – his misfortune is being part of an Orioles draft headed by fellow high schooler Matt Hobgood, a pitcher now on the shelf after shoulder surgery this year. When compared to subsequent drafts which featured high school players Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy as first-round picks, his 2009 draft class looks like a total bust.

Yet Givens can only control what he does, and while he’s likely behind guys like Machado and Jonathan Schoop on the Orioles radar screen there’s always the possibility that this recent hot streak is a harbinger of better play to come. Another year at Delmarva isn’t going to hold Mychal back, and the nearly continuous baseball he played from last June on should help him learn the game and advance.