At Norfolk, Ryan Mountcastle patiently awaits Orioles' call - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

At Norfolk, Ryan Mountcastle patiently awaits Orioles’ call

Ryan Mountcastle
Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

MOOSIC, Pa.—It seems as if Ryan Mountcastle has been in the Orioles’ farm system for years, waiting for that call. Actually, Mountcastle is only 22, but he’s in his fifth season since being chosen 36th overall in the 2015 draft.

Mountcastle was drafted as a shortstop, moved to third base, and is playing first base for the first time this year with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

“I’ve gotten a lot of work in over the past couple of months,” Mountcastle said “I feel pretty confident … I’ve played the corner infield before. I already knew how to use the drop step. Besides that, I thought it was a pretty easy adjustment.”

Everyone seems to agree that Mountcastle will hit in the major leagues. The Orioles just wanted to find a position for him. They didn’t want Mountcastle to be one of the few prospects who come into the majors as a designated hitter.

They also wanted him to work on being more selective at the plate.

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This year, Mountcastle is hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs and an .832 OPS. He’s always been an aggressive hitter, and this season has struck out seven times for each walk (64/9).

“He’s holding his own,” Norfolk manager Gary Kendall said. “There are times when Ryan needs to work a little bit on his pitch selection. I think sometimes … there’s not a pitch he doesn’t feel he can’t hit.

“He’s always looking aggressively to swing the bat, but there’s times that I think he can create some bad counts and put himself in a bad spot because he doesn’t take certain pitches or he swings at some pitches that aren’t in the strike zone.”

When Mountcastle was with the Orioles in spring training 2018, former manager Buck Showalter urged Mountcastle to be more selective. In 2017, which Mountcastle split between High-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie,  he walked just 17 times—only three times in 39 games with the Baysox.

In 2018, Mountcastle went back to Bowie, where Kendall managed him. He took more pitches and walked 26 times in 102 games, the most walks he’s had as a professional.

“If he’s going to swing at balls, they’ll never throw him strikes,” Kendall said.

Mountcastle is growing stronger, and his 12 homers in 61 games, roughly one in every five games, is exciting the Orioles. Mountcastle is an attentive student at the plate.

“Guys know how to pitch,” Mountcastle said of Triple-A pitchers. “They throw all their pitches for strikes. They attack your weaknesses. They study you. You’ve just got to adjust and have a good approach at the plate.”

The move to first base has helped Mountcastle’s confidence in the field. A year ago, he had 16 errors in 81 games at third base for Bowie. This year, he’s made just four in 51 games at first for the Tides.

“At first base, it’s coming along,” Kendall said. “He’s making good decisions on reading hops, picking more balls in the dirt than he used to. That’s something we’ve addressed at home in early work.”

Last month, Orioles general manager Mike Elias said he wanted to see Mountcastle and left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin have extended stays in their first year at Triple-A. When they come up to the Orioles, Elias wants them polished enough to stay up instead of riding the Norfolk shuttle.

“I usually try and live in the present, live in the now,” Mountcastle said. “You try not to get too anxious about whether you’re called up or not. I’m excited to possibly get called up.”

At Norfolk, Mountcastle sees teammates regularly called up by the Orioles.

“Any guy in this locker room [knows] when you’re in Triple-A, you’re one step away,  you’re one call away,” Mountcastle said.  “It’s cool, to see your friends get called up and produce in the big leagues is always fun to see. Just watching those guys perform up there and, hopefully, I’ll be up there one day. That would be cool.”

Mountcastle will have to be added to the 40-man roster this fall, and it’s possible that he won’t get added to the Orioles’ roster until the Tides’ season is complete in September. He’s willing to be patient.

“Whatever they need, whatever it takes,” Mountcastle said. “I’m willing to wait and, hopefully, I’m in their plans.”

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 20, 2019 at 8:02 am

    I don’t see any room on the roster for Mr. Mountcastle until they either decide to just eat Crushs’ contract or they trade away Mancini. … preferably not the latter. Frankly I don’t see much of a market for Mancini. Not too many contenders would want a weak fielding outfielder and most of them already have a 1st baseman that can swat the ball. No way do the O’s get back even value for Trey Mancini this year. IMO, you’ve got to keep him. No the simple answer is to eat Crushs’ contract. It’s the only way other than waiting until September, but I don’t think that’s going to happen either.

    I know our hero Mr. Dubroff has alluded to the possiblity of seeing this kid sooner rather than later, but frankly, I just don’t see Mountcastle in Baltimore until the rosters expand.

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 20, 2019 at 10:03 am

      I agree. Trey is a lunch pail guy, a grinder who can get you solid numbers, he’s not a star. Since he’s limited defensively due to not being a rightfielder and not having the opportunity to develop at first, you’d essentially be selling him to a contender as a bat off the bench. People who think the Orioles are going to get a great prospect package for Mancini are mistaken.

      • BigBirdsBird

        June 21, 2019 at 7:22 pm

        BIGbirdsbird agrees and concurs these delusional nut jobs that think someone is emptying the farm system for Mancini need to put the pipe down. Given his inability to play any premium position there is simply no way they are getting that much for him.

    • ButchBird59

      June 20, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      I agree about Mancini. He’s a guy to build on. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere but, it bares repeating, he’s only 27. Let’s assume a 5-year rebuild plan. I’ll be 32 and that’s still baseball prime.
      Mountcastle is another frustrating case of a Bird prospect with no arm. I confess I have not seen much of him this season but, I watched a lot of him on MiLB.TV last season at 3rd base. He actually showed good range and a solid glove. I remember distinctly a very Brooksian play on an “excuse me” swinging bunt where he was playing quite deep but, made a charge and bare handed pick up but, the throw was just not there. If this were the old days before shifting I would say he could possibly play 2B. Unfortunately, nowadays you need outfield arms on all your infielders.

  2. deqalt

    June 20, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I think Mike Elias is smart. Anyone in the minors who could be the “future” of the Orioles needs to stay in minors until they can play everyday and the Orioles have turned the corner on the rebuild. This season is a wasted season trying to get the #1 pick. Bring these guys up when we are trying to win. You don’t want these young players apart of a losing culture. With Adley coming into the fold bringing up Chance Sisco made sense, but not these other guys.

    • BigBirdsBird

      June 21, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      Big BirdsBird concurs all these people pissing and moaning about how bad the team is, we knew they would be terrible this is a multi year project total tear down and rebuild need that #1 pick next year and honestly we need a top 3 pick ideally the following as well.

      There is no quick fix here at all need to be patient and let The bad Trumbo contract come off the books and then just left with the bad Crush contract but at some point they will have to cut the cord here surely they are not considering 3 more seasons past this one of this continued nonsense

  3. Orial

    June 20, 2019 at 8:50 am

    True Boog–everything’s at a standstill until they decide what to do with Davis. That being said the article was not a ringing endorcement for Mountcastle. Even in Kendall’s words he has flaws/holes in his hitting approach that could definitely be targrted at the big league level. The molasses speed of 1B/DH movement at the O’s level may be to his benefit. I don’t feel as optimistic now about Mountcastle as 2 months ago. He doesn’t sound “ready”.

  4. Fareastern89

    June 20, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Rich — there have been rumblings that the organization might give Mountcastle some reps in the outfield, even though he’s still learning first base. Did you get the sense that that might happen in the near future?

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 20, 2019 at 9:18 am

      I did not though I have heard the same things, Fareastern.

  5. Brother Lowe

    June 20, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Rushing the few prospects we have isn’t the answer. Many or most of the guys we have in the majors now aren’t our future. the next few years are going to be lean on talent so let these guys come up when they are completely ready. losing sucks but I believe the organization is going in the right direction

  6. willmiranda

    June 20, 2019 at 10:34 am

    A little off the topic, except it concerns Mancini. I read that he was hit on the elbow with a pitch that was identified as a “sinker.” Is this true? Has he adopted an extreme crouch?

    • ButchBird59

      June 20, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      willmiranda, it was not a sinker or if it was it was a really bad one. Looked like old fashioned high heat. He tried to bail out to the left but, got hit smack on the left elbow. Ouch!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Can you believe this? 🙁
      The one guy who is a genuine bonified major leaguer performing at a major league level. Yikes. The first word I heard was a “contusion.” Let’s hope it’s not serious.

  7. Chuck

    June 20, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I think he’ll be great. But he strikes out NINE times for each walk, not seven. Ouch!

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 20, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      He’s actually struck out 64 times with nine walks. Thanks for making me double-check, so it is seven times, Chuck.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    June 20, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    No rush. Just imagine it, you’ve reached the pinnacle, strode into a Major League clubhouse for the first time. You are surrounded by big league ballplayers you’ve seen on TV. You are starting tonight, facing off against big league pitching, maybe a guy that’s on a Hall of Fame track your watched when you were in Middle school. Your family and friends have flown in, eager to celebrate 2 decades of hard work coming to fruition. You’ve made it. You are in The Show now. You step out of the dugout into a massive cathedral of baseball… and there’s 6000 people there.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 20, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      You sir, are my hero.

  9. Hallbe62

    June 20, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    At this point Mountcastle has greater trade value than Mancini.

    Don’t expect stellar defensive numbers from anyone who has been asked to play 3 different positions in the last 5 years. No, make a decision where his future lay and play them there. You know….so some consistency can develope.

    Mancini, to a lesser degree, is caught in the same trap.

    Who knows maybe both will improve as hitters if you stop playing “positional chairs” with their careers.

  10. Bhoffman1

    June 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Look it’s universally agreed that Chris Davis is done. There are no more batting stances to try or mind techniques to help this poor rich guy. So why keep him. Sure it’s the contract but you hurt the team and since there is no way to get out of it just DFA him ASAP. I would like to see Mancini play first everyday. Having him in the outfield is just plain out of position terrible. So where does this leave Mountcastle? Elias wants him at first but you can only have one or the other there unless you alternate DH which I don’t think he wants to do.

    • Camden Brooks

      June 20, 2019 at 4:24 pm

      I would agree that CD needs to be cut loose this summer…no idea if that will happen. As stated, it doesn’t really help the Mountcastle situation much unless we’re willing to leave Trey in RF. It’s a real shame he struggled so much at 3B because he’d be a nice replacement for Ruiz otherwise.

      • BigBirdsBird

        June 21, 2019 at 7:31 pm

        Bigbirdsbird concurs why keep running this poor slob out there hoping that whatever effort you keep putting into CD he will somehow have an aaha moment the light will go off and he will return to crushing. The dude is done give it up sure your money is lost but it is lost either way your just taking at bats and a position away from younger players who would benefit by being in the lineup. Very frustrating it is time to give up the ghost

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