Mountcastle was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, Dan Connolly of The Athletic reports.
Mountcastle is an interesting prospect, though he didn't appear to be a favor to break camp with the team, and his uninspiring .235/.235/.412 slash line in 34 spring plate appearances didn't exactly help his case. After hitting .312/.344/.527 with 25 homers in 127 games for Norfolk last season, however, he doesn't have a whole lot left to prove in the minors.
Mountcastle hit .235/.235/.412 with one home run and nine strikeouts over 34 plate appearances this spring.
Mountcastle was working at first base and in the outfield before spring training was suspended, although it's unlikely that he'll be on the major-league roster when play resumes. However, designated hitter Renato Nunez has been working at third base this spring, which could open up more opportunities for Mountcastle if he makes his likely debut in 2020, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports.
Mountcastle has been primarily been working out at first base in the Orioles' early full-squad workouts, though manager Brandon Hyde said he plans to expose the 23-year-old to the outfield as well, Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports.
Baltimore protected Mountcastle from the Rule 5 draft over the winter in anticipation of him debuting from the big club in 2020, but he'll be hard pressed to crack the Opening Day roster. Instead, Mountcastle's main focus this spring will be increasing his versatility on the defensive end, as his bat is probably already good enough to warrant an opportunity in the majors. Entering the season, Trey Mancini, Renato Nunez and Anthony Santander are seemingly locked into full-time roles at either first base, the corner outfield or designated hitter, so Mountcastle seems most likely to cut into the playing time of Chris Davis once the Orioles deem him big-league ready.
Mountcastle was added to the Orioles' 40-man roster Wednesday.
Mountcastle's .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs for Triple-A Norfolk in 2019 prompted some speculation that he could make his major-league debut, but he never reached Baltimore's roster. While his addition to the 40-man roster is mainly to shield him from the Rule 5 draft, it wouldn't be entirely surprising if the 22-year-old reached the majors at some point next season.
Mountcastle will not be promoted to the majors this season, Nathan Ruiz of The Baltimore Sun reports.
Mountcastle enjoyed success in his first season with Triple-A Norfolk, slashing .310/.343/.527 with 25 home runs and 82 RBI in 126 games for the Tides, but he'll have to wait until 2020 to make his big-league debut. The 22-year-old doesn't walk much (4.4 percent walk rate) and isn't a great defender, but he makes solid contact and could reasonably hit .280 with 20-25 home runs once he reaches the majors.
Mountcastle went 2-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBI in Triple-A Norfolk's 9-7 win over Rochester on Thursday.
The 22-year-old has caught fire at the plate lately for Norfolk, batting .357 with three home runs over his last 10 games. A first baseman by trade, Mountcastle has also dabbled at the hot corner and in left field for Norfolk, which could help his cause for landing an everyday role once he eventually gets the call to the big leagues. A promotion could be coming shortly after the trade deadline July 31, when the non-contending Orioles may have some openings in the lineup depending on who is dealt away.
Mountcastle will make his professional debut in the outfield Tuesday for Triple-A Norfolk, starting in left field and hitting cleanup.
It has been clear for a couple years now that Mountcastle doesn't profile anywhere on the left side of the infield, but he had been limited mostly to first base work this year, while getting practice reps in the outfield. Mountcastle may be the rare hitting prospect who breaks in as a designated hitter, but he could also retain eligibility at outfield or first base. He could make his big-league debut this summer.
Mountcastle went 3-for-5 with three home runs and five RBI for Triple-A Norfolk in its 11-5 win over Louisville on Sunday.
Since returning to the Norfolk lineup Friday, Mountcastle has shown no ill effects of the left wrist injury that sidelined him for a week. In his first three games back, Mountcastle has gone yard four times, propping up his season batting line to a robust .328/.351/.578 in 46 contests. The Orioles want the 22-year-old to show more polish at third base and potentially take some reps in the outfield before promoting him, but Mountcastle should make his big-league debut at some point this summer.
Mountcastle (wrist) returned to the lineup at Triple-A Norfolk, his first action since May 24.
Mountcastle was hitless in four at-bats, fanning twice, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him struggle over the course of the next few games due to his week-long absence. He could be promoted later in the summer if he continues to hit well.
Mountcastle received a cortisone shot on his sore left wrist Wednesday, David Hall of The Virginian-Pilot reports.
Mountcastle is out of the lineup for a fifth straight game Wednesday, though his absence is being considered precautionary. Following Wednesday's injection, Mountcastle could return to action with Triple-A Norfolk as soon as Saturday. Prior to suffering the injury, the 22-year-old Mountcastle was hitting .326/.351/.528 with seven homers and 33 RBI in 43 games for the Tides.
Mountcastle wasn't included in Triple-A Norfolk's lineup for their game Sunday against Gwinnett due to a finger issue, Steve Melewski of MASN Sports reports.
The injury kept Mountcastle out of action for a second straight day, but it's not believed to be a major concern at this juncture. With an .879 OPS and a manageable 20.7 percent strikeout rate this season at Norfolk, the 22-year-old has looked major-league ready at the dish, but the Orioles may want him to prove he can capably handle the corner outfield before he gets a callup.
Mountcastle could get reps in the outfield later this summer at Triple-A, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports.
So far, he has played almost exclusively at first base this season, with a few starts at third base and designated hitter sprinkled in. While Mountcastle's .323/.351/.530 slash line and seven home runs in 174 plate appearances suggest he is nearly ready for big-league pitching, the Orioles want him to face Triple-A pitchers for a second time to see how he responds to being pitched differently.
Moutncastle, who is opening at Triple-A Norfolk, will see significant time at first base this season, Joe Trezza of MLB.com reports.
He hit .297/.341/.464 with 13 home runs and a 121 wRC+ in 102 games at Double-A last year, so the assignment to Triple-A makes sense. Mountcastle's defense (particularly his below-average throwing arm) has always been his biggest weakness, so the transition to first base also makes sense. He could reach the majors this summer.
Mountcastle went 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBI in Saturday's spring win over Tampa Bay.
Mountcastle was seen going through drills at first base earlier in camp and got the starting nod there Saturday. The 22-year-old was previously a shortstop before transitioning to third base in 2018, but it appears the move to first is mostly about creating additional versatility. Mountcastle slashed .297/.341/.464 with 13 home runs at Double-A Bowie last season.
Mountcastle was spotted going through drills at first base during Monday's workout, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports.
Mountcastle was drafted as a shortstop, and after transitioning to third base for the 2018 season, it appears he could be in line for another position change. The 22-year-old insisted that the shift to first base isn't permanent just yet, although, given his impressive bat, first base may be the quickest path to the big leagues for the 2015 first-round pick. "It was just trying to get me to play more positions," stated Mountcastle. "Flores had me working there the last few days, just trying to get comfortable with it so whenever they need me out there at first, they can put me out there and feel confident."
Mountcastle went 1-for-6 with a solo home run during Double-A Bowie's doubleheader with Erie on Sunday.
Mountcastle has gone deep four times over his last 10 games, raising his season OPS to .884. The 21-year-old third baseman now looks like the Orioles' best organizational asset on the left side of the infield after All-Star shortstop Manny Machado was traded to the Dodgers last week.
Mountcastle (hand) was activated from the disabled list at Double-A Bowie and went 3-for-4 with a run and a RBI Thursday against Hartford.
He suffered a broken hand midway through spring training, and this was his first game back. Mountcastle isn't a great defender anywhere on the diamond (he played third base in this one), but he has the potential to hit for average and for power, which would allow his bat to profile at third base or in left field. He is on pace to reach the majors in early 2019.
Mountcastle (hand) is set to join Double-A Bowie on Thursday or Friday, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports.
Mountcastle has missed the entire season with a hairline fracture in his right hand but is nearly ready to return. He had a .222/.239/.366 line in 39 games for Bowie last season and will need to conquer that level before earning a promotion to Triple-A.
Mountcastle (hand) is getting close to joining a minor-league affiliate, Steve Melewski of MASN Sports reports.
Mountcastle has been sidelined all season with a hairline fracture in his right hand, but he's inching closer to making his 2018 debut. The top prospect has been playing in games at extended spring training over the past couple of days, and if he continues to do so with no issues, he should be cleared to join a minor-league affiliate in the coming weeks. He's still looking at a mid-May return.
Manager Buck Showalter said that Mountcastle (hand) is progressing well but has yet to resume hitting, Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun reports.
Mountcastle is able to do everything else at this point, but he will likely need a few more weeks before returning to the field at the Double-A level. When the 21-year-old went down with a broken hand in mid-March, the initial timetable was four-to-six weeks, so he's currently right at the beginning of that projection. Expect to see him begin hitting in the next week or so as he gears up for a return in mid-May.
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