O's Ryan Mountcastle on spring goals and taking his offense to a higher level

SARASOTA, Fla. – Ryan Mouncastle is not exactly a veteran on the Orioles, although he has been a regular for back-to-back years and played more than half the game in the shortened season in 2020 with the club. But he’s been in enough spring training games to know what he wants to get done to prep for the year under the Florida sun.

Like any player, ending spring healthy is goal No. 1. If he is feeling good about his swing heading into the year, that would be a nice bonus.

But he doesn’t put too much into what the spring stat sheet says about his production in Florida.

“My timing, hitting-wise, if it feels right towards the end of spring (is important). Most of the time – I don’t think I’ve had the best spring training numbers – but I just want to be ready for the season. If I get out of this healthy with some good timing at the plate, that’s all I want.”

After a 2022 season where his homer numbers dropped from a team rookie record 33 in 2021 to 22 last year with the new outfield dimensions at Camden Yards, he took some solace in his expected numbers which showed how hard he hit the ball last season and how often he did that. So, he said, his winter work was along similar lines from past offseasons, just looking to make small improvements anywhere he could.

“Just worked on my defense and pitch selection and some drills for that. Stuff like that. Pitch selection, it’s always going to be tough to work on (in winter). But just doing that and getting stronger and faster.

“Did some small things, in (winter sessions of) BP, just mix it up. Fastballs, offspeed. And see both four-seam and two-seam to train the eyes. Nothing too crazy.”

Mountcastle’s average exit velocity increased from where it was in 2021 at 89.1 mph to 91.3, which ranked in the top 12 percent of MLB. He was in the top six percent in barrel percentage and in expected slugging he ranked in the top four percent in the majors at .508 but his actual slugging percentage of .423 ranked 38th in the AL among qualified hitters. The batted ball data said his final numbers should have looked better, maybe much better.

“Yeah, I thought it a was a good year overall," he said. "I just thought it was a little unlucky. Felt like day in and day out I was hitting a ball or two hard a game and towards the end they weren’t really falling at all. Little frustrating but, happy where I finished, but you can always improve.”

And now his team will try to take the next step to and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. What will it take to get the Orioles there again?

“Our chemistry,” he said. “I feel like all these guys, lot of guys returning, especially in the lineup for us and getting in synch with each other. Last year was another year to prepare for a playoff run for this year.

“Last season we got used to the (playoff-like) atmosphere and experienced some big games over the last two months. Just about every game felt big. It was exciting and something to learn from.”

And Mountcastle believes his offense could find another gear this year. His OPS+ dropped from 114 in 2021 to 105 last season.

“Yeah. I don’t think I have tapped into the full potential I have for myself. Hopefully this year I can tap into it and have a good year.”

And hit some balls over the deep wall in left while remembers doubles are good too.

“Try to get even stronger this year so some balls will go out. But yeah, doubles are good too. But home runs are automatic runs,” he said a smile.

About last night: Maryland Governor Wes Moore threw out the first pitch last night at Ed Smith Stadium. Before that he met with the team and team officials and even took batting practice with the club on a back field.

He told reporters he expects the Orioles to sign a new lease to play well into the future at Oriole Park at Camden Yards very soon.

I’m very confident that we are moving fast on this," Governor Moore said. "It should not be lost on anybody that the first trip that I took outside of the state was down here. Was to spend time with the Orioles. To make sure they understand how big of a priority this is for me and how big a priority this is for the state. So we feel very confident that we have the same goal. The goal is to make sure there is Orioles baseball in Baltimore for generations to come. I feel very good about our prospects to get this deal done very quickly.”

Click here to read more of what the Governor said last night.

He also had plenty of praise for the team and its chances this season.

"The thing that I love about this team and I love that I got the chance to spend time with the team, going out and taking batting practice and spending time in the lockerroom. This is a good bunch of guys. They play the game right. They really enjoy being around each other. This is an incredibly talented team but it's also an egoless team. And fun to watch. They will outwork everybody and play together and that's why this team is going to have a great year. 

"This team epitomizes everything that we love about Baltimore. Everything that we love about Maryland and I think this year they are going to put on a show and it's going to be fun to watch," he said. 

Check out these tweets of the Governor's day with the team here and here.


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