WASHINGTON - Triple-A Norfolk’s Ryan Mountcastle was named the International League MVP today and the first baseman on the postseason All-Star team. That is welcome news in the Orioles clubhouse, where several players were his teammates this year in Norfolk.
Mountcastle hit .308/.340/.528 with 32 doubles, a triple, 25 homers, 79 runs, 80 RBIs and an .869 OPS. He leads the International League in hits (153) and total bases (262), and ranks tied for second in extra-base hits (58), fourth in RBIs, eighth in slugging and tied for 10th in home runs.
“You know, he was just consistent,” said Jace Peterson, who played 90 games with Norfolk this season. “Every day that he came to the field, he was the same guy. He had fun every day and worked hard every day. Definitely well-deserved and I’m happy for him.
“I think he’s just going to continue to get better. This offseason is a big one for him. He knows what he needs to work on and what went well this year. He got his first taste of Triple-A and he was the MVP of the league. That says a lot there.”
Mountcastle leads Orioles minor leaguers in hits, home runs, RBIs and extra-base hits, and he was named Baltimore’s Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America on Aug. 22. Mountcastle also matched Norfolk’s franchise record for home runs in a game earlier this season when he belted three versus Louisville on June 2.
“He’s a guy that is not going to be content and will continue to work and get better,” said Peterson. “I got to talk with Mounty a lot this year. He’s a smart kid with a good head on his shoulders that likes to work. Now it’s kind of in his hands and he’ll take it serious and get better. And I look forward to seeing that.”
Added DJ Stewart, who played 63 games with Norfolk: “I’m not surprised at all. He’s hit third all year long for us and shown everyone in that league that, not only is he a dangerous bat, but he is a big bat for this organization. Had an incredible year and I’m happy for him. His work in the offseason (was big). He had like a little bit of trouble early, but he adjusted quickly and never wavered. He knows he’s a good hitter.”
Meanwhile, Hanser Alberto is in the Orioles lineup tonight against the Nationals, batting first and playing third base. Alberto left Sunday’s game with a head contusion and cervical neck strain, but he’s in there tonight. So is Renato Núñez, batting fourth at first base. Núñez left Sunday’s game with discomfort behind his left knee.
In the bottom of the third inning Sunday, Alberto got hurt sliding into the knee of Tampa Bay infielder Eric Sogard while trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. But he’s good to go tonight and said he could have played yesterday had there been a game.
“Yeah. I was fine yesterday,” said Alberto. “I got hit pretty good twice, in the front and back (of the head). I think the knee went in the back and shin went here in the front. He got me pretty good. It was frightening right away. But an hour after, I was fine. I did all the concussion tests and everything.”
Alberto begins play tonight fourth in the American League and 10th in the major leagues among qualifying hitters batting .314. His .402 average against lefty pitchers leads the majors.