Orioles looking at Ryan Mountcastle at first and third to find the right fit - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Orioles looking at Ryan Mountcastle at first and third to find the right fit

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Fla.—Since he came into the Orioles’ organization, the question of where Ryan Mountcastle would play defensively has been an active one.

Mountcastle’s first 2 ½ seasons were spent at shortstop. In 2016, he committed 21 errors in 105 games at Low-A Delmarva, and in the first half of the 2017 season at High-A Frederick, Mountcastle was charged with 13 errors in 82 games.

He was promoted to Double-A Bowie in the second half of 2017, and made six errors in 38 games. Last year, Mountcastle was charged with 16 in 82 games at third base.

With a new Orioles management team, Mountcastle might be moved to a new position. On Monday, Mountcastle was taking turns at first base. A day later, he was moved to third.

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“I’m working out at third and first,” Mountcastle said. “I was told two days ago I was going to take some ground balls [at first base], try to get my feet wet.”

Mountcastle has no professional experience at first and wasn’t sure if he played there—in high school—or even Little League.

“I may have played a game or two there, but no, not really,” he said. “I feel good. I think it’s pretty easy to pick up, just coming from the other side of the field, the other corner, so I feel good over there.”

Manager Brandon Hyde isn’t sure which position is best.

“We’re going to keep moving him,” Hyde said. “He’s going to do a little bit of third, a little bit of first. We’re just trying to get our eyes on him. We just haven’t seen much of him play.

“Obviously, he’s a big piece for us going forward. He’s such a dynamic offensive player. We’re trying to make him fit. I’m trying to get [infield coach Jose Flores] to just get with him as much as possible and we’re going to work hard with him and figure out through this camp where we see him fit.”

Mountcastle walked just 17 times in 127 games with the Keys and Baysox in 2017. His plate discipline improved last year when he walked 36 times in 102 games with Bowie. His .341 on-base percentage was an improvement from the .312 OBP in 2017.

Hyde said he doesn’t look at who’s playing where on the major league roster when considering where Mountcastle winds up.

“I don’t think we’re there with Mountcastle yet,” Hyde said. “We’re still developing. It’s still going on. I want what’s ever best for him. Whatever is really going to help him get to the big leagues and be a big league force offensively.

“We’re just trying to find the right fit for him, and get to know him and make some evaluations on his defense as we go along. Again, with the new coaches and maybe some new ideas, hopefully he gets comfortable and hopefully we find a great spot for him.”

Mountcastle said he was pleased with how he did at first.

“I feel like I did a lot better over there, just getting my throws down, footwork, stuff like that,” he said. “I feel more confident for sure.”

He said he knows what needs to be done.

“Honestly, at first base, it’s just a lot of footwork around the bag and trying to help your teammates out, trying to pick balls, trying to stretch out, do whatever  you can to get the out,” Mountcastle said.

There had been some chatter last year that Mountcastle could be given a trial in the outfield, but that’s not something Hyde is considering now.

“That might be down the road,” Hyde said. “Right now, we really want him to focus on his defense in the infield, and then we’ll make a determination later on.”

Mountcastle doesn’t know where he’ll be playing once Grapefruit League games get under way on Saturday, but assumes he’ll see some action at first base.

“I haven’t been told, yet, but I’m assuming I’ll get a couple of games in there,” Mountcastle said.

Hyde remembers that when he was a coach with the Chicago Cubs, the team elevated Kyle Schwarber to the major leagues to be a designated hitter when they played interleague games, and he had great success.

Could Mountcastle forget about a defensive position and begin his career as a DH?

“With a guy like that, I think that’s another special circumstance,” Hyde said.

“I want guys to develop defensively. I want guys to be able to play a position, play it well at the big league level. We’re always looking at guys long-term also, and I think development is obviously really, really important. Development still happens in the big leagues, but I want guys when they get there to have success, so we’ll look at the big picture when it comes to something like that.”

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. cedar

    February 19, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    We already have a glut of 1B – Davis, Trumbo, and Mancini. But maybe we assume those first two will be gone by the end of this season and Mountcastle becomes the everyday DH while serving as the back up 1B?

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Cedar, you want to find the best position for every player. Then, you can concern yourself with who plays where. Hyde is just getting to know Mountcastle and everyone else.

    • Jbiglen49

      February 20, 2019 at 1:44 am

      You know I’m not a prospect expert but I never really understood why Mountcastle is getting so much hype. His plate discipline isn’t going to be good at all and if he can’t play any other position than 1B the bat isn’t going to be all that special. Hope I’m wrong but Ryan Mountcastle the 1B doesn’t seem like a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball to me. At SS I could understand the hype. That kind of production would be great. Even at 3rd with a halfway decent defensive combo it’d play but at 1B? Color me skeptical.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 20, 2019 at 7:07 am

      Jbigle, he’s a story because he’s one of the better-known prospects in camp, and because there are so many questions about him.

  2. Disco Stupid

    February 19, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I’m happy the org is finally trying him out at first. Apparently he is athletic and has good hands and it is his arm that might prevent him to stick at third. Davis will either play himself off the team or turn around and Trumbo’s time on this team is limited. Mancini…I think this season will tell if he is worth hanging onto long term.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 19, 2019 at 9:05 pm

      I think you’re right, Disco.

  3. Hallbe62

    February 19, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    He’s had 1558 AB’s in the minors over 397 games, resulting in a .289 batting average.

    That sounds like a promising hitter to me.

    Figuring out where the O’s want him to glove it, could help his hitters psyche.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 19, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      That sounds like a cogent plan, Hallbe.

  4. Michael Trent

    February 19, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Davis can’t play himself off the team because the Orioles aren’t going to eat that kind of money. No one has to worry about Mancini long term because he can hit and a bat like Mountcastle has they will find a place , just like the previous regime thought he would

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 19, 2019 at 9:07 pm

      Michael, I think you’re on to something. If he hits, they’ll find somewhere for him.

  5. SailinO

    February 20, 2019 at 9:20 am

    First base is so muddled. I am rooting for Mountcastle to become proficient at third. If CD can return to moderate production he will play. If Mancini and Trumbo continue to perform I see them becoming tradeable chips at the deadline. Shame because I like Trey. Final thought-suppose Cisco starts to hit, but is sub par defensively? Could he be added to the first base carousel?

  6. Michael Trent

    February 20, 2019 at 10:16 am

    As far as Mountcastle goes , he was a SS then moved to 3b and he has hit everywhere. His walks were up and strikeouts were down .Thats what the hype is and let’s not forget he was a high school pick

  7. Bhoffman1

    February 20, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Isn’t Mancini the first baseman of the future ? Or By time CD is gone Mancini might be too old

  8. Bancells Moustache

    February 21, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Has no one considered 2B?

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