Elias talks about Broxton, minor league prospects and more

The pending arrival of outfielder Keon Broxton might be only the tip of the Orioles roster iceberg.

Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias indicated today that he’d like to get Triple-A Norfolk outfielder DJ Stewart and catcher Chance Sisco to Baltimore relatively soon.

It’s a trickier maneuver with Stewart because he’s a corner outfielder and the Orioles are playing Dwight Smith Jr. in left and Trey Mancini in right.

First baseman Ryan Mountcastle and starter Keegan Akin are further away from promotions because of their youth and inexperience. Mountcastle is only 22 and learning his third position.

Elias said the Orioles might want to take a look at Mountcastle in the outfield, necessitating another position switch in the minors.

Here’s a sampling of comments from Elias during his dugout interview with the local media:

Elias-OD-Lunch-sidebar.jpgOn Broxton: “He became available when the Mets designated him a few days ago, and we had our eye on him. Speed, excellent center field ability, he’s got some raw power. He hasn’t gotten a lot of consistent playing time. Certainly not this year, and even the past year. But two years ago put together a pretty good campaign with Milwaukee. We’re trying some different things in center field, and we wanted to give him a look and, hopefully, give him maybe a little more extended time than he’s had, and we’ll just see how it plays out.”

On how he decides which players to claim: “I think it just depends on the situation and the needs and what position, or if it’s a pitcher. It just depends on the situation. But there are times where we feel somebody is a clear talent upgrade, and there are other times when we’re looking for something in particular and somebody becomes available.”

On whether top prospects at Triple-A still need to spend extended time in minors: “I think it depends on which players you’re referring to, but it’s good to see some of the guys are doing really well down there. Sisco’s doing really well down there, DJ Stewart is doing really well down there. And that’s very much on our radar right now. In DJ Stewart’s case, we have two corner outfielders up here in Mancini and Smith, who are doing great, so it’s just hard to find an easy way to get him here. But we’d love to have him join this team, and I’m hopeful we can find a way to do that on the sooner side.

“As I’ve said all along, Sisco’s someone that we’re counting on and we care a lot about, and we want to get him up here at the right time. Maybe that soon, too. We’ll just have to navigate the next couple of days or weeks or whatever it is and see what happens.”

On Mountcastle: “I categorize Ryan a little differently. He hasn’t played in the majors yet, he’s extremely young for Triple-A and, really, he’s probably at the stage in the Norfolk schedule where his opponents aren’t seeing him for repeat time. He’s not going through the league the second time yet. He’s got a lot of work to do defensively still at third, or even at first, and we might even start taking a look at him in the outfield when we get opportunities. So there’s a lot more development for a guy like him and we’re erring very carefully on the side of his development. But it’s pretty soon for him at Triple-A.”

On whether he likes having Triple-A people and others relay this information to players: “Being a Triple-A manager is not an easy job, and Gary Kendall does a good job talking with the players. And certainly, when members of the front office or me personally later this summer after the draft get a chance to get down there and visit, we will talk to those guys. Especially the ones on the 40-man roster and the major league radar screen and make sure they’re aware of where they stand as best we can.”

On Akin: “I’m excited about him, always have been. Looking at what he’s done so far in the minor leagues, looking at his stuff, looking at the reports we hear about him. One of those guys that we are extremely hopeful on and counting on to be a future rotation piece here, so we want to make sure that he has the proper footing to do that. And I don’t think a month and a half in Triple-A is the end of that story, so just hope he keeps doing what he’s doing.

“I know (minor league pitching coordinator) Chris Holt and the pitching coaches are liking the work that he’s doing, but there’s some things he can still work on to prepare himself for the majors.”

On whether Mark Trumbo’s return affects Mountcastle: “Just generally speaking, when you’re a corner defender, if it’s first base or left or right, you’re competing with more people for playing time because there are so many people who can go and play those positions. Not everyone can catch or play short or play center. So anytime your defensive options are limited, it’s harder to break rosters. It’s more competition when you’re on a roster. We see that right now. So there are a lot of people vying for those at-bats with the Orioles and around baseball in general.

“That’s why with Ryan we want to try to give him some different options and get him as skilled defensively as we can.”

On what he wants fans to know regarding how the club’s playing: “There have been good things this year so far with the major league team’s play. The win-loss record is not one of those good things. It is what it is right now. We’d like to see it get better. We’d like to play at a little better win clip than this, but there are guys that are having good seasons. I’m not going to run down the list, but there are guys who are playing well, there are young players taking steps forward, there are guys getting, really, their first extended taste of major league play here who have come in from other organizations, waiver claims, what have you, that are possibly establishing themselves as major league players, and that’s good to see that here.

“We’re trying to bring talent in from all the angles that we can, and if we’re able to add a couple of guys and have them stick and be pieces here, I think that would make this year a huge success. But look, we have a huge effort on our hands. This is the beginning of it. We all know what this looks like. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to push to get better, but that’s where we’re at right now.”

On evaluating manager Brandon Hyde: “I think he’s done an excellent job. He’s in a difficult circumstance with a young team, a lot of players coming in from all different directions, guys coming and going, guys who weren’t really with us in spring training. And I know the players have received his message very well. He’s done a great job looking out for the best interests of the players. Not putting pitchers in uncomfortable positions, even though we’re stretched thin and times and our guys have been throwing a lot of pitches. In some cases getting beat up. So he’s done a terrific job. I’m really happy he’s here.”

Elias also said the club hasn’t settled on its first pick in next month’s draft, and stated again the importance of the selection. Scouts still need to get back to Baltimore, and Elias and crew continue to update the draft board.

“We haven’t locked in, nor will we until later,” he said.

Also, Elias said the Orioles will be extremely busy once the next international signing period begins on July 2. Busier than any time in franchise history. Lots of announcements will be forthcoming.

MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski will provide those quotes in his blog.

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