As offense slowed, O's made the call to get Ryan Mountcastle

The Orioles have picked a good time to call up one of their top hitting prospects in infielder/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle. Their lineup needs some help right now and recently lost both center fielder Austin Hays and shortstop José Iglesias to the injured list.

That might have been the tipping point. About a week ago, it seemed the O's were just about first or second in many team offensive stats in the American League. But they have scored just 17 runs during their five-game losing streak and they have scored two runs or less in three of the last four games.

In team stats, the O's have fallen to fifth in OBP in the AL (.322), fourth in slugging (.449) and fourth in OPS (.771). When this homestand began a week ago today, they were first in in slugging (.473) and second in OPS (.810).

Right now, an offense that was pretty strong for 20 games needs a boost. Enter Mountcastle, the Orioles' 2019 Minor League Player of the Year and the International League MVP.

He's not being added to save the day, just to be additive to a starting nine that needs it. Some players that were really hot previously, like Hanser Alberto and Rio Ruiz, have cooled off and the bottom of the order has not provided too much in recent days.

Mountcastle-Dugout-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgDrafted by the Orioles out of a Florida high school No. 36 overall in 2015, Mountcastle had a huge 2019 for Triple-A Norfolk. Mountcastle hit .312/.344/.527 with 35 doubles, a triple, 25 homers, 83 RBIs and an OPS of .871. He led the International League in hits (162) and total bases (274), and was second in extra-base hits, third in doubles, and fifth in average, runs and RBIs.

He's going to be aggressive hitter with a lower walk rate. But rather than focus solely on drawing more walks, I think a bigger key for this kid will be to not chase pitches. Veteran big league pitchers will know about his rep as an aggressive hitter and they'll try to get him to chase non-strikes. If he does that often, he'll see a steady diet of those pitches.

When I conducted a one-on-one video interview with Mountcastle in May, he told me his offense and hitting style have grown and developed over his five seasons on the O's farm.

"Yeah, I feel like I've evolved in a lot of ways," he said. "My swing isn't the exact same as it was my rookie year out of high school. I made a few adjustments that I thought would help my game and help my power numbers. As a corner infielder, I had to put up pretty good power numbers. So I evolved my swing into something I like and that is comfortable for me to put up numbers."

When Mountcastle was added to the O's 40-man roster last November, I interviewed Gary Kendall, who managed him at both Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Here is that story, which included this Kendall quote:

"He's very confident in what he does and his approach. But he's a very humble young man that was raised really, really well. I just saw tremendous growth in him this year. How he handled everything, hit in the middle of the lineup, what kind of teammate he was. Just a real special kid that had a real special year."

Mountcastle has been ranked as high as the O's No. 2 prospect by Baseball America. That was at the end of the 2018 season when he was No. 71 on their national top 100. A year later, he was No. 90 on the Baseball America top 100. Right now, he is rated as the O's No. 5 by and No. 6 by Baseball America.

Mountcastle's defense in left field in the small sample of the first spring training was fine, and he said he felt comfortable out there. He moved to left field late last year at Norfolk. I would guess that as of tonight he becomes the club's everyday left fielder.

Here is the video interview with Mountcastle during the baseball shutdown from May.

Kendrick "75 to 80 percent" recovered from hamstri...
Orioles promoting Mountcastle for tonight's game

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to