Gary Kendall talks Triple-A prospects, plus other notes

Over the years, I’ve learned that manager Gary Kendall can provide some real solid insights on his players. He did that again this week. The first-year manager of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides was a guest on “The Scott and Jeremy show” on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore.

Kendall was asked about right-handed hitting prospect Ryan Mountcastle, who is ranked as the No. 2 Orioles prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 69 on the updated top 100 list by Baseball America.

The 22-year-old Mountcastle is batting .304/.328/.503 with 15 doubles, a triple, 15 homers and 50 RBIs. He’s hit 11 of his 15 home runs at Norfolk’s Harbor Park and has a .920 OPS at home.

Mountcastle-AB-White-sidebar.jpg“Ryan has been tremendously consistent,” Kendall said on The Fan. “Hit a little over .300, hit 15 home runs and has driven in around 50. That’s a model of consistency right there, because he’s being pitched to. He’s hitting in the middle of our lineup at 22 and he’s one of the youngest players in the league.

“There are nights that it’s a learning experience, but also nights that he looks like the best player on the field. He’s playing primarily first base and a few games in the outfield and at third. He’s taken a little bit to left field. He hasn’t been challenged yet in the gaps into left-center field. But he does have an assist from the left field corner, a strong accurate throw. His arm plays a little better out there. This is something the organization wants to take a look at and he’s on board with it. He’s worked hard playing a lot of balls off the bat out there.

“This gives us another thing to look at with a guy that can really swing the bat. It gives Baltimore more options and that is what we are trying to provide.”

Kendall was asked about lefty pitcher Keegan Akin, ranked as the club’s No. 6 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. In 16 games, Akin is 4-2 with a 4.20 ERA that ranks sixth-best in the International League. Over 75 innings he has allowed 73 hits, including five home runs, with 40 walks, 89 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.51.

“Been really good and consistent,” Kendall said. “We had him at Bowie and he’s really developed his secondary pitches and his breaking ball. His fastball is not overpowering, but he’s got good riding action and gets a lot of strikeouts with his fastball. I think with (director of pitching development) Chris Holt and the program they put him on, they wanted him to develop his other pitches. He’s making pitches in crucial counts that were always fastballs last year and now it’s maybe a 3-1 changeup where he gets a ground ball. A 3-2 breaking ball to a lefty hitter. Things he didn’t do last year. You have to utilize pitches in so-called fastball counts.”

Hunter Harvey, the Orioles’ 2013 top pick, was recently promoted from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk and threw two scoreless innings Sunday in his Triple-A debut. Harvey has pitched out of the bullpen in his last four games between both those teams. In 11 combined innings out of the ‘pen, he has allowed one hit and no runs with two walks and 12 strikeouts. Harvey is ranked No. 13 on the O’s list by MLBPipeline.com.

Kendall got his first look at Harvey out of the bullpen on Sunday.

“He had one outing for us, two innings, and it was really clean. He didn’t get all amped up and had a lot of poise and composure,” Kendall said. “The ball came out real good, you know, upper 90s. What I liked is that his misses, his balls, were real quality. They were down and in and off the plate. He didn’t leave anything middle cut. He looks like a more refined pitcher, so they did some wonderful things with him at Bowie.”

On the farm last night: Speaking of Norfolk, the Tides lost 8-2 to Gwinnett last night. Right-hander David Hess pitched two scoreless innings in relief. Since allowing five runs in his first Triple-A outing after he was optioned from Baltimore, Hess has thrown four straight scoreless outings. In that span, he’s pitched 11 innings for the Tides. Mason Williams singled to extend his hitting streak to eight games.

Right-hander Michael Baumann made his starting debut for Double-A Bowie in a 4-0 loss to Hartford. Baumann allowed one run over six innings and has an ERA of 0.75 over 12 innings in his first three Double-A games. Bowie took two of three despite this loss and has won nine straight series.

Lefty Ryan Wilson allowed two runs over six innings and fanned a career-high 10 for Single-A Delmarva in the Shorebirds’ 2-0 loss at Lakewood. Wilson, a 33rd-round pick in 2017, has recorded four straight quality starts. In that span, he’s allowed two earned runs over 24 innings.

Short-season Single-A Aberdeen beat Connecticut 4-0. Adam Stauffer threw four scoreless innings and right-hander Griffin McLarty picked up his first professional win. The club’s 2019 eighth-round pick threw two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

Winning the series finale: The Orioles scored six runs in the ninth inning last night in a 9-6 win over Tampa Bay. This was the first win this season for the Orioles when trailing or tied after eight innings. They had been outscored in the ninth inning 48-18 this season until last night. Rio Ruiz and Renato Núñez hit three-run homers in the win. In the last six games, the Orioles have scored 13, 13, zero, three, three and nine runs. They take today off and open a series Friday night at Toronto.

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