The Orioles expect Ryan Mountcastle to make his major league debut this season. They’re also counting on him having a set position when he does.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound 23-year-old has been on the move since the Orioles selected him in the first round in 2015. He was a shortstop who shifted over to third base before moving across the diamond to first.
Now he’s a left fielder who’s getting lots of reps at the team’s alternate camp in Bowie, Md.
Mountcastle, the Triple-A International League MVP last year and the organization’s No. 6 prospect, wasn’t going to break summer camp with the Orioles. There’s more work to be done, including improving his plate discipline, and no rush to start his service clock.
“We’ve said this a lot, there are two big areas that we want him to focus on,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said. “One is learning to play left field. We’ve been really impressed with how much better he’s gotten very quickly, given the fact that he was basically dropped into left field midway last year for the first time in his life, but he’s still got a ways to go there, and that’s a big focus of his work down in Bowie.
“And secondarily, a big righthanded power hitter like he is, a potential middle-of-the-order bat, his walk rates in the minor leagues have not reflected what you want to see and maybe would be some cause for caution in terms of major league success right now.”
Mountcastle has been provided with feedback on his swing decisions at the alternate camp site to help him work on his plate discipline. The Orioles also want to make sure that Mountcastle is playing in the field, and not relegated to DH duty, when he makes his big league debut.
“We want him to work in left field and get him as comfortable as we possibly can, really from spring training until now and going forward,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
— The Orioles made righthander Grayson Rodriguez, their 2018 first-round pick, the 56th player in their player pool by adding him on July 29.
— Catcher Adley Rutschman, the first overall selection in the 2019 draft, would have been assigned to high Class A Frederick if the minor league season hadn’t been canceled. He worked out at the Camden Yards camp and played in intrasquad games before heading over to the Bowie site.