Showing the way: 2020 rookies provide hope for those on farm

When some young talent came up from the Orioles farm system this year and performed well in the major leagues - players like Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer - it was a real positive for the organization in many ways.

For one, it showed that the organization did have some nice talent down below and knew how to develop it. It was a credit both to the former regime of Dan Duquette, who drafted and/or traded for those players, but also for general manager Mike Elias and his staff. It showed the new regime that took charge when Elias was hired in November 2018 could take the talent already here and help shepherd it through to the majors.

But another benefit is the impact the success of those players had on those still on the farm. Those working hard to get where Mountcastle, Akin and Kremer now are. The trio got to the majors and showed the current group of farmhands how success in places like Aberdeen, Salisbury, Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk can culminate in the goal they really have - to get it done in Baltimore.

I recently interviewed five O’s minor leaguers to find out how they got their work in this summer without minor league games. Those stories include video interviews and if you missed them, I’ll link both at the end of this.

I talked with pitchers Drew Rom and Brenan Hanifee, infielder Mason McCoy, outfielder Robert Neustrom and catcher Brett Cumberland.

A fifth-round pick in 2018 out of the University of Iowa, Neustrom said seeing those guys succeed in the bigs is meaningful.

“It’s definitely inspiring to see those guys come through the system and make it to the bigs,” said Neustrom. “Because the Orioles, I think they really do value their farm system like that. It motivates us as players big time. All those guys, and especially outfielders for me, I’ve been able to learn from them. I want to replicate what they are able to do. I want to make it, too, and it’s done nothing but inspire me to be an Oriole one day. It’s up to us to put in the work and do what we have to do.”

Thumbnail image for McCoy-Fielding-White-ST-sidebar.jpgMcCoy was a non-roster invitee to big league spring training in February. He was also drafted out of the University of Iowa by the club, in round six in 2017.

“It is definitely inspiring,” said McCoy echoing Neustrom’s use of that word. “Seeing like back when (Manny) Machado was with the Orioles and Trey (Mancini). You see pictures of when they were in the minor leagues. You see them on TV all the time and may not realize they actually went through the same process that we are going through. That sometimes gets overlooked.

“Guys that put in a lot of time in the minor leagues. But I think that is one of the things the Orioles are doing. They’re loading up on the farm system and they are getting all these new coaches in. We are trying to relearn, I guess, some hitting techniques. Same thing with the pitching. You see a dramatic change in the pitching, over basically a year. That is one of the things that is going to get us to where Mountcastle is. He hits .345 right out of the gate. Definitely exciting.”

Said Cumberland, acquired in a July 2018 deal with Atlanta: “I think it all speaks well of our new player development. Our pitching is just a year old, I guess, but some guys are dominating. Our hitting - we just got introduced to stuff last year, I would say. It’s going to be exciting what our future holds. I think it’s only the beginning for the Orioles and I’m very excited for the future. It is awesome to see these guys doing it at the highest level. Mountcastle is one of the greatest guys I’ve met. (Austin) Hays is a great guy with a ton of energy. Very glad to be in this organization. I can’t say that enough to see what’s going to happen.”

Added Rom: “It is just exciting to see that they are taking guys from our system and developing players and using them. It is also cool to see guys you played with in spring training on TV. So really excited for them. It is something to look forward to in our future.”

Hanifee said watching players from the farm succeed on television this year reinforces that could be him one day.

“It is awesome to see,” said Hanifee. “I was drafted the same year as Keegan Akin and we’re pretty good friends. We talk pretty frequently, so to see him have that success is awesome to see. The other guys as well. Just to see that it is a reality, that you can get there and the success with the homegrown guys is awesome to see.”

Click here to read the story I wrote with the pitchers and here for the story with the position players. All five provided interesting updates on what they did this summer without minor league games.

Rays to the ALCS: The Tampa Bay Rays will play Houston in the American League Championship Series that begins tomorrow. The Rays beat the Yankees 2-1 in Game 5 of their series last night.

On Sept. 1, New York’s Aroldis Chapman threw a 101 mph pitch at the head of Mike Brosseau. Last night, Brosseau hit a homer off Chapman in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie. This was nice revenge for Brosseau and the Rays. They now play for the AL title for the first time since 2008.

In Florida, long-time Rays fan Dick Vitale had quite the victory celebration. While in San Diego, the Rays mocked the Yankees after their win.

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