Mountcastle's play in left has Orioles feeling all right about his future - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Mountcastle’s play in left has Orioles feeling all right about his future

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA, Florida—This is the year for Ryan Mountcastle to make his regular-season debut for the Orioles. The 23-year-old is getting a long look in left field and an occasional turn at first base.

His spring offensive stats are secondary, although he’s been hitting well. Mountcastle is 8-for-24 (.333) with a home run and four RBIs. He has struck three times and hasn’t walked.

Everyone believes Mountcastle will hit, but the concern is finding a position for him since Chris Davis is still playing first. The feeling is, if Mountcastle hits enough, the concern for his defense lessens. With the speed of Austin Hays in center, Mountcastle would have less ground to cover in left.

In Tuesday’s game at West Palm Beach, Mountcastle couldn’t track down a fly ball hit by Washington’s Juan Soto that turned into a two-run double.

“I think he’s played well,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I know he had a tough ball that drifted on him in the wind, hard to get to, but he’s getting better every day. I think he’s feeling more comfortable. I’m leaving him out there longer than others just to get a little bit more time. He’s coming along.”

Mountcastle did not play in Wednesday’s game against Miami in Jupiter.

His first action in left for the Orioles came on February 22, the team’s first game of the spring.

“It was good. I got a lot of work out there,” Mountcastle said. “I can’t remember how many balls got hit to me, probably five or six. I felt pretty comfortable out there. It was sort of a tough sun, just battling that. It was good for me.”

Mountcastle began his professional career at shortstop, moved to third base in 2017 and last season played 83 games at first base and 29 in left field for Triple-A Norfolk.

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“I put it enough work in the offseason and here at camp so far to feel pretty comfortable at those positions,” Mountcastle said. “Anywhere they put me, I’m going to be comfortable. I think I can perform pretty well.”

Mountcastle was the 36th overall pick in 2015 draft and was the International League’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Orioles’ organizational Player of the Year after he hit .312 for Norfolk with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Those numbers were impressive, but the Orioles want him to find a position where he can help them for the long term as well as cut down on strikeouts and increase walks.

“I’ve got to keep working on left field, first base, wherever they want me to go,” Mountcastle said. “Hopefully, they’ll think I’m ready by the time the season starts to be up there and play defense well.”

Last September, general manager Mike Elias said he thought Mountcastle would have to improve his defense and increase his on-base percentage, which was .344 after just 24 walks in 520 at-bats.

Mountcastle knows it’s possible he’ll return to Norfolk, at least long enough to give the Orioles another year of club control.

“If that’s what they want to do, it’s fine with me,” Mountcastle said. “I’ll go work hard there and try to show what I can do there and, hopefully, get called up at some time this year.”

Fans are eager to see Mountcastle and Hays playing side-by-side.

“I’ve played with him for a while, and he’s always been an amazing player,” Mountcastle said about Hays. “He makes spectacular plays in the field. He’s a really good hitter. To play alongside him definitely is fun.”

Mountcastle, whose locker is near Chris Davis, has been seeking out the veteran for counsel.

“He’s got a lot of experience, seeing what he has to say,” Mountcastle said. “I give him my two cents now and again. Learning from everybody around here is definitely good.”

Mountcastle is working hard but said he’s not putting pressure on himself.

““I’ve got to come out here and perform and play my game,” Mountcastle said. “I’m not going to try to press too hard to be like, ‘I’m going to be amazing every day.’ I’m going to go out there and play my game. If that’s good enough, then, great. If not, I’m going to keep working.”

The Orioles issued Mountcastle No. 6, something that he noticed and appreciated.

“It feels good. I think I was 79, 76, big drop down to 6,” Mountcastle said. “It’s definitely cool to get a pretty normal number.”

Hyde is enjoying watching Mountcastle’s development.

“He’s got huge power,” Hyde said. “Getting a look at him right now, watching him in BP right now, he can really drive the ball to the middle of the field. Generates a ton of bat swing. He’s strong. He’s trying to get the ball in the air. When he catches it on the barrel, it goes a long way. There’s a lot of things to like about his swing and now it’s about getting his at-bats.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    March 4, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Dead serious, I’d love to know what advice CD would give Mountcastle…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      March 4, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Your right at this moment that’s the last person I would ask advice from. Someone that’s been more mixed up the last three years then anyone in MLB

      • Phil770

        March 7, 2020 at 6:28 pm

        Those that can do… those that can’t advise. Davis’ career may be over, but he had success and he can offer a 23-year old some lessons learned.

    • willmiranda

      March 4, 2020 at 8:04 pm

      Advice: Sign with Scott Boras and don’t worry about your game.

  2. Borg

    March 4, 2020 at 7:10 pm

    Fans are anxious to see Mountcastle and Hays play side by side? Says who? The only way those two should be playing side by side is if they turn Hays into a second baseman. I’m saying it again-Mountcastle does not have the arm to play outfield. He has a noodle arm. He makes Al Bumbry’s arm look like Roberto Clemente’s. I suppose if he hits .340 it won’t matter, but this is another example of the Os not having a comprehensive plan as to how to develop players. First it was Mancini going to the OF, then Nunez at third, then Wikjerson in the outfield, and now Mountcastle. Three of those were because of Davis, let’s just keep that in mid. This has disaster written all over it.

    • Bhoffman1

      March 4, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      Right I saw him yesterday in WPB , his arm is very weak and believe that fly ball that Soto hit was very catchable. I do like his bat though. Getting back to Soto he is amazing

  3. Orial

    March 4, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Having Hays in CF will definitely lesson the pain of having Mountcastle in LF BUT having Mancini also in RF? We’re gonna kill poor Hays. If they’re serious about it stick him out there and NOT every 4th day.

    • willmiranda

      March 5, 2020 at 9:49 am

      Maybe we should go to four outfielders and three infielders as a permanent shift. Like a football team
      going from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

    • CalsPals

      March 5, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      They just need to get their shift together…lol…go O’s…

  4. Phil770

    March 7, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Mancini is out for a while; Renato was brought in as 3rd baseman, but he can’t play 3rd base. Cut-him. RM can DH, When Mancini returns and Davis’ renewal fades, cut Davis and Mancini to 1st. RM has proven he cannot play defense anywhere on the field, pretty sad. OF is Santander, Hays and Diaz/Mullins. If Sisco proves he can actually hit, put him at 2nd and platoon Ruiz and Hanser at 3rd. Developing minor league players on an MLB team is Tanking, the Marlins have been doing it for years, so MLB does not care one way or the other. No matter what the O’s do, unless they win now, you will never be satisfied.

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