Mason McCoy's quiet rise through the Orioles' system - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Mason McCoy’s quiet rise through the Orioles’ system

Photo Credit: Laura Wolf

BOWIE—In the community of Orioles fans who follow the minor leagues, Mason McCoy has emerged as something of a cult figure. McCoy, a 24-year-old shortstop who was the Orioles’ sixth-round draft choice in 2017, has had a terrific and, to some, a surprising rise this season.

A year ago, McCoy batted .266 with four home runs and 47 RBIs for Low-A Delmarva. He stole 13 bases in 15 attempts.

This year, McCoy was regularly summoned to spring training games as an extra infielder but rarely played.

Once the spring ended, McCoy went to High-A Frederick and hit .379 in 27 games.

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He earned a quick promotion to Double-A Bowie, where he’s played some second base as well as shortstop and hit .302 with two home runs and 20 RBIs.

McCoy’s success in 2019 isn’t a surprise to him.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily it was a bad season,” McCoy said of his time with the Shorebirds. “My first two months were really bad. We were trying to make a lot of adjustments with hitting.”

Last year, from July 1 on, McCoy hit .296. He said mechanical adjustments made the difference.

“Going into that season, it was the first offseason where I didn’t know what to do,” McCoy said. “I tried to guess when to start things. I felt really behind when it came to hitting, so this season I started a little bit sooner … immediately when I showed up at spring training, I noticed a huge difference.”

McCoy, who went to the University of Iowa, bears some resemblance to longtime Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, and he’s got a fan in Baysox manager Buck Britton, who also managed him at Delmarva last year.

“He’s committed to the player that he is,” Britton said.

McCoy is a bit of a throwback. He has just nine home runs in three professional seasons.

“He’s not afraid to continue to hit line drives into right field and get on base and set the table for the other guys,” Britton said. “In the days of the shift, he’s not afraid to hit behind the shift and take his base hit to right field.”

In this new baseball age, contact hitters don’t seem to be highly valued, but Britton discussed McCoy with his brother, Zack, the longtime Orioles reliever who’s now with the New York Yankees.

“I think there’s a place in the game for a guy like that,” Britton said. “I talk to my brother all the time, and I talk about what McCoy has gotten to do. Zack talks about DJ LeMahieu, and that’s how DJ LeMahieu hits.”

Even though McCoy had few opportunities to perform in Orioles Grapefruit League games, he still profited from the experience.

“Everyone’s relaxed, and they just know what their job is, and they know where they’re supposed to be all the time,” McCoy said.

It helped prepare him for the Keys and now the Baysox, and perhaps more.

“You never really know,” McCoy said. “You hope for it, and I think that I was capable of playing at this level. I don’t really worry about what the moves  are. I focus on, every day, try to come out and get a win, try to play baseball well, and it will take care of itself.

“I played well enough that they thought they’d give me a chance to come up here and try and prove myself. Up to this point, I think I’ve done a decent job doing that.”

With Bowie so close to Baltimore, it’s natural for McCoy to believe he has a chance to play for the Orioles. To McCoy, Delmarva and Frederick felt far away from the major leagues. With the Baysox, not so much.

“Once you’re here, you see that we have guys that have big league experience, a lot of them,” McCoy said. “You get a lot of bounceback guys. That’s something that excites you when you’re talking to them about how the big leagues are,  and you realize, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re almost there.’ We’re kind of close. That definitely gets you excited and ready to come out to play.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 19, 2019 at 8:38 am

    So what are we waiting for? Bring him up!!

    OK for all you seamheads out there that haven’t been reading this site for the past 4 years … I’M JOKING

    Seriously though Rich … nice article to fill the AM read after an off day. Very nice article.

  2. Orial

    July 19, 2019 at 8:47 am

    First of all I wish we could come up with a nickname for him because at my age deciphering between him and Mason Williams(at Norfolk) is murder. Rich you mentioned his offensive adjustments but how does he fair defensively? His style of play is a throwback and as he goes against the grain it sounds like he may clash in today’s world of analytics? Hope those two factors don’t “ruin” a good thing.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 19, 2019 at 9:08 am

      He’s adequate defensively so far, and yes his style may clash.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 9:41 am

      Too easy, “The Real McCoy”, go O’s…

  3. Fareastern89

    July 19, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Thanks, Rich. It’s refreshing to have a kid who’s willing to take what the defense gives him. Appears to be a plus defender as well, at least good enough to be a utility infielder at the major league level. Along with Grenier and Adam Hall — plus this year’s shortstop draftees — it looks like the O’s are building up some depth at the middle infield positions. Look forward to seeing McCoy up here perhaps late in 2020.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 19, 2019 at 9:09 am

      Thank you, Fareastern.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    July 19, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Very little home run power, puts the ball in play , gets on base and can swipe a bag when needed? Why do I feel like 2019 Big League Front-Office wisdom will state this guy can’t make it in the Show? Nowadays, if you can’t hit at least 20 dingers you are looked at as incomplete. Guys like Carew, Boogs and Gwynn would be considered non-prospects today. Absurd, but largely true. Another side effect of the dull, risk averse bludgeon ball that Microsoft Excel dictates is the best way to win a championship.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 19, 2019 at 9:23 am

      I’m hoping that’s not the case, Bancells.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 19, 2019 at 9:27 am

      I’m assuming you meant Boggs …. everybody knows Boog Knows The Long Ball.

      Those 3 players you mentioned … Carew, Boggs & Gwynn … Those were ballplayers my friend, and combined, they would have made up quite the Strat-O-Matic lineup. Frankly, I know its a sexy argument lately, and maybe I am just an old man pining for my youth, but I truly, truly believe pitching and small ball made for a much more enjoyable form of the game from a fan’s perspective. I miss seeeing balls put into play and the defense that style of play brought along with it. Too many homers cheapen the Home Run itself.

      • Fareastern89

        July 19, 2019 at 9:56 am

        Amen. I couldn’t agree more.

      • Bancells Moustache

        July 19, 2019 at 10:06 am

        Of course it did Boog. Say what you will about the giant, Astro-Turf stadiums of the 70s aesthetic issues, they made the baseball on the field exciting. Stolen bases, extra base hits and the most thrilling play in all of professional sports, the play at the plate. I keep rewathing Dave Parker’s absolute missile to Gary Carter in the 1979 ASG on YouTube. Compare that with this year’s snoozer in Cleveland, with every single batter hacking for the fence and striking out. People keeps saying they need to let guys batflip to bring in young fans. Don’t matter what guys do after a home run, the rest of the game is boring!

  5. Baltimore Castaway

    July 19, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Is it my impression that for the most part our Minor League players were pretty much on their own for developing their skills and techniques under the former regime?

    Seems like Elias and Sig and the coaches have introduced whole new methods to help pitchers and hitters to better understand their approach and to improve themselves.

    McCoy is an easy fellow to root for; underdog, drafted as a college Senior out of an under-appreciated Iowa D1 school.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 9:45 am

      Agree, Iowa, not known for baseball, now if there was a scrap, I’d really want him, great wrestling history…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        July 19, 2019 at 10:08 am

        Reference: “Field of Dreams” location.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 10:12 am

      Philosophy behind Camden Yards, if you build it, they will come…go O’s…

  6. willmiranda

    July 19, 2019 at 10:32 am

    With all these promising shortstops in the system, does anyone believe Martin is our shortstop of the future? I often read in discussions of roster moves that we must keep the Rule 5 guy. Really? I’m not pushing to dump him, but I don’t think returning him to the A’s should be unthinkable.

    • Bancells Moustache

      July 19, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      There’s plenty of upcoming guys, but no one Major League ready. My guess is the organization lets Martin do his thing all year and, should he start to get it together with the stick, he’s an attractive chip to be dealt down the road. Elias is no fool. He’s stuffing the minors with athletic SS/CF types because everybody wants and needs those. They are as much capital as they are players

    • Camden Brooks

      July 19, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Martin is super athletic and did hit over .300 in AA. Having said that, I’m disappointed he hasn’t shown improvement with his hitting as the season has progressed. If I had to guess, they keep him for the season and demote him next year.

  7. Mickraut

    July 19, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Amen, Boog !

    The excitement in baseball comes from putting the ball in play.
    HRs are exciting only if they are walkoffs, MLB record-breakers or personal milestones.

  8. cb

    July 19, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    I guess Mark Belanger wouldn’t make it to the big leagues in today’s game.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 19, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Mark Belanger’s WAR of 40.9 was higher than Boog Powell’s 39.0, CB.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      But we don’t have Belanger BBQ, lol…Boog has better BBQ…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Fortunately or unfortunately, back then they didn’t look at WAR like they do today…kinda miss just trusting a good scout vs all the numbers…go O’s…

  9. cb

    July 19, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    If that means Belanger was a more valuable player than Boog, then I think there is something wrong there.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      Rich, I may be wrong, is WAR an acronym for wins against replacement? If so wouldn’t it only apply to players playing the same positions?

      • mlbbirdfan

        July 19, 2019 at 3:37 pm

        WAR supposedly allows comparison of all players without regard to position. (Also: the moon is made of green cheese)

        • mlbbirdfan

          July 19, 2019 at 3:41 pm

          PS: While I do not trust WAR data, I do understand the concept of “wins above replacement”. The concept includes hitting and fielding and takes into account opponents played and opposing pitchers, among other things. . What it does not include is clubhouse presence, leadership, people skills, staying healthy and on the field at all times, The “little things” that lead to championships

          • Bancells Moustache

            July 19, 2019 at 4:50 pm

            I acknowledge WAR data, though it comes from multiple models and I feel it is vastly overstated, plus it’s terribly uninteresting for the casual fan. National publications keep hyping Mike Trout’s climb up the all time WAR leaderboard like everyone is going to stop and watch and not shrug and say “uh, okay”. “At some point tonight we can’t pinpoint, Mike Trout will overtake (insert Hall of Famer here) for career WAR according to our complex computer calculation no one who didnt attend MIT can understand! Tune in at 7!!”

            Not exactly compelling television. Plus I also believe that analytics is hurting MLB in ways other than making the game boring. It’s becoming inaccessible, since the majority of baseball articles online, baseballs best way of reaching an audience, are a tangled gobbledygook of spreadsheets, acronyms and math problems.

      • Rich Dubroff

        July 19, 2019 at 4:49 pm

        It’s Wins Above Replacement. I was using it rhetorically. If I asked, who had a higher WAR, Mark Belanger or Boog Powell, most would say Powell. I’m trying to point out that there’s a place in today’s game for players like Belanger.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      C’mon, I knew the moon was made of green cheese, WAR just has me confused, thx for your help….

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      No, I’m pointing out that there’s still a place today with analystics for a Belanger-like player. Earl Weaver knew how valuable he was instinctively.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 5:17 pm

      Agree, he knew instinctively, like the scouts of old…love it…WAR smore…go O’s…

  10. Bhoffman1

    July 19, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks for the article Rich you know I’ve been rooting for this guy. Lately he slumped a bit let’s hope he breaks out tonight. To me it’s so crazy that Richie Martin gets to play in the bigs just because of rule 5 and this guy who knows when he will get a chance. I know Martin hit in double A but he’s overmatched here and this guy deserves the same opportunity as Martin

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 19, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      A year from now, he may get that chance, Bruce.

  11. NormOs

    July 19, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    The difference was, the O’s in the 60s could afford to play a great defensive shortstop who couldn’t hit because they had plenty of offence and pitching. I don’t recall the number of Gold Gloves The Blade won, it may have been six. Now do we have a SS that could win a Gold Glove? I am a doubter.

    • CalsPals

      July 19, 2019 at 7:23 pm

      Agreed, I’m guessing there wouldn’t be too many gold gloves that were not also good offensive players as well, again guessing, but the last gold glove SS O’s had was probably Ripken, not really going too far out on a limb here…go O’s…

    • Camden Brooks

      July 19, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Biggest crime in Gold Glove history took place in 1990. Cal plays every inning, makes 3! errors ALL SEASON and doesn’t win the award.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 20, 2019 at 12:05 am

      CalsPals, J.J. Hardy won three straight Gold Gloves from 2012-14.

    • CalsPals

      July 20, 2019 at 7:35 am

      Thx, we saw quite a few Hardy jerseys when we visited Baltimore last week…go O’s…

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