The wait to make the major leagues was a long one for Ryan Mountcastle.
He spent the last two seasons at Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk waiting for his turn, and on Friday, he finally got his chance.
Despite an 0-for-2 performance, Mountcastle reached base on two walks, a product of his plate discipline drills he underwent at the team’s alternate site in Bowie.
Along with learning a new position (left field), the Orioles wanted to make sure he was not only ready for the major leagues, but here to stay.
“I’ve spoken repeatedly with Ryan about it and he knows — not that any 23-year-old is a finished product by any means — but this is somebody we introduced a pretty dramatic position change to midstream last year,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said Saturday. “And there were still things he was working on defensively, even offensively, trying to polish up. We wanted him to be the type of guy, when he gets promoted to the big leagues, he’s here to stay.”
Elias said the organization wanted to give him enough time to prepare for the major league level. He was expected to start the year once again in Triple-A before making the jump.
Playing games against the team’s prospects in Bowie, Mountcastle simply wasn’t getting the game experience necessary to make the next step. “With the lack of a minor league season this year, it made for a very strange calculus where we wanted him to get work in in left field, we wanted him to work on the offensive development goals that we had for him,” Elias said. “But there were no real games to be played. At some point, it’s in his best interest to go see some other uniforms and play some real games.”
Now, Mountcastle has batted sixth on back-to-back nights and figures to be a fixture in the Orioles’ lineup for the remainder of the season and beyond.
“We feel he’s in a decent enough spot in terms of his comfort level in left field to at least survive out there right now,” Elias said. “He might surprise us out there, he’s a good athlete. He performed well in Bowie, he walked more than he struck out and there were some really legit arms down there throwing at him.”