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Ryan Mountcastle still patiently waiting for Orioles debut to come

Ryan Mountcastle still patiently waiting for Orioles debut to come

Ryan Mountcastle has waited his entire life to make his major league debut. Now he’ll just have to wait a little longer. 

The 23-year-old slugger for the Orioles has essentially accomplished everything he could in the minor leagues. He climbed the organization's minor league ranks since the time he was drafted in 2015 and last season, in Triple-A Norfolk, he took off. 

Mountcastle slashed .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs and was named the International League’s Most Valuable Player. 

Even still, he won't be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster this summer. 

“They communicated with me, I think right before all the names came out and said I was going to the alternate site,” Mountcastle said Monday. “A little upset, but at the end of the day they sent me down after spring to Triple-A and they said most of the guys they sent down were going to that alternate site.”

With service time the major issue with Mountcastle, just a week away from the roster will give the Orioles another year of team control before he hits free agency. In essence, the Orioles are making a long-term play to save money on Mountcastle down the line.

“He wasn’t one of the original players we brought in here,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Monday. “He’s going to go to Bowie, get some work in and be ready for us sometime this summer.”

Still, though, Mountcastle has work to do if he wants to become the everyday player like many expect him to become. 

RELATED: RUTSCHMAN READY FOR DEBUT, IF IT IS THIS SEASON

Last year in Norfolk, he played 81 games at third base, 84 games at first base and 26 in left field. But on Tuesday, Hyde indicated the team has basically moved on from trying Mountcastle at third base. Instead, they’re repping him constantly in the outfield with a few drills at first base sprinkled in-between.

“You’ll see him play the majority of time at left field, he might get a few reps at first base also, but we really want to make the primary focus left field because it’s new to him,” Hyde said. “It’s important for him and for us for him to be able to play the outfield. At this point, we’re not hitting him ground balls on the left side of the field, so we’re really focusing on his defense in left field primarily and first base next.”

In left field last year in Norfolk, his first season playing the outfield as a professional, he tallied a perfect fielding percentage and had 37 putouts with five assists. 

“There’s a lot that goes into the outfield,” Mountcastle said. “Just getting better routes, that’s all I was trying to do. Being able to put my head down and run and look up and be able to find the ball, stuff like that, as opposed to the infield. When you get a fly ball in the infield, you got your eyes on it the whole time.  But when you’ve really gotta put your head down and run in the outfield, it’s a little more tough.”

While his adjustment to the outfield is the predominant focus and discussion surrounding Mountcastle, there are still things he’s got to clean up before he makes a clean transition to the major leagues. Mountcastle, who is the 94th ranked prospect in baseball according to mlb.com, posted a 23.5 percent K-rate a season ago in Triple-A and just a 4.3 percent walk-rate. 

The clear response to those questions about Mountcastle, however, are to let him give it a twirl at the major league level. 

As for when he’ll get that chance, though, remains to be seen. 

“I worked my butt off my entire life to be a big leaguer,” Mountcastle said. “I want to be able to be up there and help the team win. I think I bring enough to the table to do that. Hopefully I get that call this year.”

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Orioles announce series with Marlins will begin on Tuesday

Orioles announce series with Marlins will begin on Tuesday

After the Orioles-Marlins series last week was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Marlins organization, the teams announced they will face off in a four-game series this week.

In a press release on Monday, the Orioles said they will play a four-game series against Miami starting Tuesday at Camden Yards due to the concerns of Hurricane Isaias in Florida. The Orioles will serve as the home team for the first two games, and the Marlins will play their “home opener” in the final two. 

The series also features a seven-inning doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game will begin at 5:05 p.m. that evening, and the second will start 30 minutes after the end of the first. The teams will play single games on Tuesday and Thursday.

Baltimore was originally set to take on Miami from July 27-30. However, the Marlins faced a coronavirus outbreak within the team after players failed to follow safety protocols. 20 coaches and players within the franchise tested positive since Opening Day.

Miami started its season with a three-game series against Philadelphia, winning two of the matchups. However, the series led to positive coronavirus tests within the Phillies organization as well and caused a domino effect of cancelations around the league. 

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde spoke on the matter last week, saying the team has taken a day-to-day approach to the situation.

“I think there is a little bit of concern, but we want to play,” he said. “Our guys want to play. We feel comfortable about how things are here right now. We’re going to continue to follow closely all the guidelines in place because our guys really want to be on the field. This was something that was possible, and it’s extremely unfortunate. I think we’re taking it very, very seriously.”

The O’s have started their season with a 5-3 record after facing the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays. Now the team will look to continue their strong start at home on Tuesday at 7:35 p.m.

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Mariners place Jeffrey Maier cutout in stands at game vs. A's

Mariners place Jeffrey Maier cutout in stands at game vs. A's

With Major League Baseball games being absent of fans for the 2020 season, teams have gotten rather creative when it comes to "filling" the stadiums for gameday.

Many used fake crowd noise as a way to bring the common atmosphere to the ballpark, and some have gone as far as putting cutouts of fans in the seats. The Seattle Mariners are one of them, but one particular face in the crowd may bring back some bad memories for Orioles fans.

During Sunday's game against the Oakland Athletics, a cutout of Jeffrey Maier, an infamous enemy of all Baltimore supporters was spotted near the fence. 

For those who may be unfamiliar, Maier made his mark During Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS between Baltimore and the New York Yankees when he was a 12-year old fan in the stands of Yankee Stadium. The Orioles held a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when a young Derek Jeter sent a ball his way, and Maier reached out and grabbed the "home run."

Only, many believe it wouldn't have been a home run if it wasn't for Maier, as fans will still pull up evidence that Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco was in a position to potentially catch the ball because it was not going over the wall. Right or wrong, the call went in the Yankees favor and Maier went in the Orioles Hall-of-Shame.

RELATED: O'S OFF TO SURPRISINGLY STRONG START

So, while the cutout of Maier in Seattle may be a funny and clever move to many, it probably isn't being viewed like that in Baltimore. As the picture showed, Steve Bartman was also included in the hijinks, so at least Orioles and Cubs fans can share in the misery. Though, Chicago's may sting less as they've lifted their curse since then.

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