Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Ryan McKenna and Ryan Mountcastle have at least two things in common: They were all placed on the Orioles’ 40-man roster on Wednesday, and a day later said they had little idea the deadline for it was coming up.
“It’s in the back of your head,” Akin said in a Thursday conference call.
“I honestly didn’t know the date until about November 2 when my uncle texted me a picture of a screen shot off of his phone that said, ‘November 20, deadline for Rule 5.
“Up until that point, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know the date. I just knew it had to be before December 1.”
Akin, Kremer and Mountcastle were locks to be added to the roster.
Kremer didn’t know until the beginning of the month, either.
“You pray that you put yourself in a good enough position during the season and show that you have the potential or that you’re exceeding your potential so that you put yourself in a good enough position to get protected,” Kremer said.
Mountcastle, the Orioles’ top minor league position player, learned about the deadline several days ago when his agent texted him.
“When I got the call, I was pretty pumped,” Mountcastle said about his addition.
McKenna found out just ahead of the deadline, too, also from his agent.
“I’m pulling for you,” his agent’s text read. “It was an exciting time,” McKenna said.
McKenna was hardly a certainty to be protected, especially since the outfielder hit .232 for Double-A Bowie.
“You have it in the back of your mind,” McKenna said about his addition. “You can’t control that stuff.”
He knows that in order to make the majors as an outfielder, his hitting must improve.
“Hitting’s a lot mental for me,” McKenna said. “Having a consistent routine is going to be essential for me … I need to be a little more consistent with all my tools … I know I can impact the game in different ways.”
Akin, a left-hander, and Kremer, a right-hander, are heavy favorites to make their major league debuts in 2020.
The 24-year-old Akin (pictured above), who was Orioles’ second-round draft choice in 2016, said his addition meant he was “just one step closer to the ultimate goal, becoming a big leaguer.”
He knows that he must work on improving one facet of his game if he’s going to be a successful big leaguer.
“I need to lower the walk rate,” Akin said. “That killed me last year and the year before that.”
Akin has averaged more than four walks per nine innings in his professional career, and at Triple-A Norfolk, it reached 4.9.
“Eliminate free passes. That hurts you, especially as a starting pitching.”
Kremer said that for him to make it to Baltimore, he needs “to show a consistency over all four pitches, be able to get guys out efficiently rather than let them hang around in late counts, 2-2, 3-2 counts a lot.”
Akin and Kremer are the closest prospects to the majors. Akin pitched in Norfolk in the 2019 season and Kremer started four games for the Tides after a standout season at Bowie.
“It’s healthy competition,” Kremer said about the pitching prospects in the organization. “We’re pretty good friends and we talk to each other a lot every day.”
At the end of last season, Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias said Mountcastle, who was transitioned to first base and left field with the Tides last season, would start 2020 in the minors because he needed to work on his plate discipline and defense, but some of that might have to wait until spring training begins in February.
“Just getting some extra reps out there in the offseason will help,” Mountcastle said about improving his defense. “Plate discipline is probably a little bit tougher. Seeing more pitching, better pitching in big league camp, that will definitely help in that aspect.”
Oriole ticket prices for 2020: When Orioles season ticket-holders received their invoices for next season, nearly all of them found their ticket prices weren’t raised.
According to a team spokeswoman, 97 percent of season ticket prices will remain the same next year. The first 10 rows of tickets between the bases will be raised about $3 per game.
The team is attempting to reward those diehards who have remained with the team over the past two tough seasons by not raising their prices, but new plan holders will pay higher prices than existing season ticket-holders.
Over the past two seasons, attendance has dropped by more than 700,000. Last season’s figure of 1,307,807 was the lowest full-season attendance since 1978.
The team points out that according to Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index, Orioles tickets are the fifth-most affordable in Major League Baseball.
Parking, which has long been $10 per game ,will rise to $15 a game, the first increase in more than a decade, according to the team. Season ticket-holders who have been paying $8 per game will now pay $10 a game.
Individual game prices for 2020 have not been announced.