Quartet of O's exceeding expectations

Castillo, Mancini, Asher, Castro making impact this season

May 25th, 2017

BALTIMORE -- Despite the Orioles losing 10 of their past 13 games, there's still been plenty to feel good about regarding the season's first two months.

Here are four guys who are exceeding expectations and looking at whether they can keep it up over the 162-game grind.

What he's doing: Since being activated off the disabled list on May 16, Castillo is batting .367 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in seven games, including a two-run walk-off homer vs. the Blue Jays last Friday. Castillo has a .330 average in 24 games, and he has been a huge part of the Orioles' lineup, seamlessly replacing long-time backstop Matt Wieters.

Can he sustain it? Of course not -- at least not offensively. Castillo's on a hot stretch, there's no doubt about that, but there's no reason why he can't have a terrific year still. Orioles manager Buck Showalter admitted he didn't know much about Castillo when the club signed him in the offseason, but he has hailed the catcher's work ethic and framing abilities. Castillo has fit in well in the clubhouse, and there's nothing -- health permitting -- that would stop him from having a huge year. Three homers and 10 RBIs every seven games, however, is probably asking for a bit much.

What he's doing: Playing himself into a fairly regular role with the Orioles. The O's weren't sure if they could even keep him coming out of camp, but Mancini had too good of a spring to justify otherwise. He's rewarded that faith with seven homers and 23 RBIS in 33 games, moving Hyun Soo Kim to the bench and earning starts against lefties and righties.

Can he sustain it? Perhaps. While the Orioles' offense has been erratic this season, Mancini, who was ranked the club's No. 5 prospect heading into Spring Training, has been impressively consistent. After a red-hot April, he's hitting .362 in May with four doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs. Yes, Mancini hasn't walked much (earning seven walks next to 35 strikeouts this season), but he's given the O's some solid at-bats and doesn't seem phased by the moment. At some point, Mancini is going to struggle in the Majors and have to make an adjustment. But he's exceeded all expectations in the first two months of the season and there's no reason to think he won't be able to handle the ups and down at the plate.

What he's doing: Whether it was a spot start or key innings in the bullpen, Asher has pitched to a 2.17 ERA in 11 games (two starts) for Baltimore. He's an option to start on Sunday if the O's decide to not go with .

Can he sustain it? Asher, who was traded from the Phillies to the Orioles on March 28, has one of the best deliveries on the team, which allows him to have good control and gives the O's a dependable arm. He has been able to bounce back quickly, which is key for a bullpen that gets a lot of action. I don't know how he'd fare every five days in the rotation, but it seems right now that Asher is a serious weapon as a middle reliever. He's reminiscent of from last season -- capable of starting but better in a longer relief role. Should the O's move Asher into the rotation, it doesn't mean he won't succeed, but it could cause a ripple effect in the 'pen if they can't replace those quality innings.

What he's doing: Who? Don't lie, you were asking yourself that when Castro came up last week in Detroit from Double-A Bowie. Acquired from the Rockies on April 7, Castro tossed three scoreless innings and opened some eyes in his two outings. He has since been sent back to Double-A Bowie to get on a more consistent schedule.

Can he sustain it? Castro was fast-tracked to the big leagues as a 20-year-old with Toronto and struggled to find success with the Rockies. The talent is there, but other organizations have failed to find a way for it to translate. It's probably too early to say if the O's can do it, but they are taking a sound approach. Castro will get several days off and a work day in between longer relief outings, a similar program to No. 10 prospect Tanner Scott. There's no telling if Castro's initial success with Baltimore was a fluke or a sign of things to come, but we haven't seen the last of Castro this season.