BOWIE, Md. - Promoted today from Single-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie, 20-year-old infielder Ryan Mountcastle is batting fifth and playing third base tonight for the Baysox.
Mountcastle played exclusively at shortstop this season for Frederick, where he hit .314/.343/.542 with 35 doubles, a triple, 15 homers, 47 RBIs and with an OPS of .885 in 88 games. He began today leading all of minor league baseball in doubles and ranks second in extra-base hits.
This is a position change for Mountcastle, although he did play three games at third in 2015 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
“We were called and told he is going to play third base here,” Bowie manager Gary Kendall said this afternoon. “Dave (Anderson, Orioles minor league infield instructor) is here and we’re working to develop him. We went over some things today, Dave did and we’ll just keep going out there with him. It’s exciting to have him. Because we know what kind of kid he is and what he brings to the table offensively.
“We’re familiar with him from instructional league and a lot of guys in that clubhouse already know him. They’re his friends and want to help him. This is a good environment for him to be in.”
What challenges will Mountcastle face as he moves over from short to third base?
“On this field, the ball gets on you a little quicker,” Kendall said. “It’s a very fast infield. You know it’s a one-step position and he’ll have to read angles and hops. Those angles are different. But being an athlete like he is I think he’ll hit the ground running and I’m anxious to see how he adjusts.”
The Baysox today added Mountcastle and pitcher Jordan Kipper from Triple-A Norfolk. They placed infielder Jeff Kemp (left ankle) and pitcher Matthew Grimes (neck soreness) on the seven-day disabled list.
Bowie outfielder Cedric Mullins is almost ready to come off the DL. He went on for the second time this this year on July 7 with a hamstring injury. He ran today and could be activated this weekend.
After winning 18 of 24 games to surge into first place, the Baysox (50-46) have lost four of five as they begin a four-game series with Altoona. Bowie, Altoona and Erie begin tonight in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern League’s Western Division.
In his first at-bat: Mountcastle is batting 1.000 in the Eastern League. He saw one pitch and singled to center field to lead off the Bowie second inning. Seconds later he was doubled off first when DJ Stewart lined out to third base.
The game is scoreless in the third. Bowie starter right-hander Jesus Liranzo struck out the last batter in the top of the second with a fastball that registered 101 mph on the Prince George’s Stadium radar gun.
Update: Mountcastle is now 1-for-3. He hit a hard one-hopper for a groundout to second in the third and reached on an error in the sixth.
Bowie trails 6-5 in the seventh. Liranzo gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings on 42 pitches, but Altoona scored six times in two innings off right-hander Brandon Barker. Second baseman Adrian Marin has a two-run double for the Baysox.
A walk-off win: Bowie won in walk-off fashion tonight when Marin drew a two-out bases-loaded walk in the last of the ninth to beat Altoona 7-6. Earlier in the inning, Mountcastle fouled out, finishing 1-for-5 in his Double-A debut.