The Orioles are focused on addressing a lack of high-end position-playing prospects in their system, as their recent draft class highlighted. However, the work of Ryan Mountcastle at Triple-A Norfolk this season has given the organization something to be hopeful about.
Only 22 years old and playing at the highest level in the minors, Mountcastle led the Orioles’ system with 24 home runs through 115 games with the Tides. He slashed .310/.342/.532 with 29 doubles, one triple and 77 RBIs during that same time frame. That offensive production came while Mountcastle was also learning two new defensive positions, moving from third base to splitting time between first base and left field.
“He’s made so many adaptions,” Norfolk manager Gary Kendall said. “You’re talking about an everyday guy hitting in the middle of the lineup at 22 years old who’s been probably the most consistent hitter in the league. Hitters sometimes go through peaks and valleys, and he’s been able to maintain.
“There are certainly things he wants to address—cut down on the strikeouts, maybe increase his on-base percentage, things of that nature. But all those things, I think we’re heading in the right direction.”
The defensive side of Mountcastle’s game remains a work in progress after the Orioles drafted him as a shortstop in the first round in 2015. Left field is his fourth different position.
“He’s adapted to it well,” Kendall said. “Once he gets it going out there as far as his routes, what he gets to he handles, but it’s just making the right move on the ball. That line drive that maybe is hit over his head. The ball he has to commit to and coming in on a sinking line drive.
“His arm, for me, plays a little better in the outfield than it did in the infield. I think he gathers himself well and gets in a position with his arm and his feet to have a little bit more arm strength, and his accuracy to bases has been good.”
— Lefthander D.L. Hall, 20, was shut down for the remainder of high Class A Frederick’s season with a mild strain of his left lat muscle. Hall, the Orioles’ first-round pick in 2017, made his last start on Aug. 8 and posted a 3.46 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and .189 opponent average with 54 walks and 116 strikeouts in 80.2 innings this season. The Orioles have left open the possibility that Hall may pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
— Delmarva outfielder Zach Watson, a third-round pick this year out of Louisiana State, suffered a fractured bone after being hit by a pitch in the hand/wrist area. He won’t need surgery. Watson hit a combined .226/.297/.435 with nine doubles and five home runs in 36 games between short-season Aberdeen and low Class A Delmarva.