The Orioles are well represented in this year's Arizona Fall League, with five of their eight participants ranking among the team's Top 30 Prospects. Headlining that group is Ryan Mountcastle, who, at age 20, is adding on to an impressive season in which he reached Double-A."This is such a great
The Orioles are well represented in this year's Arizona Fall League, with five of their eight participants ranking among the team's Top 30 Prospects. Headlining that group is Ryan Mountcastle, who, at age 20, is adding on to an impressive season in which he reached Double-A.
"This is such a great opportunity to come out here against this competition," said Mountcastle, Baltimore's No. 3 prospect, about being chosen for the Fall League. "It's the best of the best out here from the Minors."
• Arizona Fall League roster & stats
The second of two first-round picks made by the Orioles in 2015, Mountcastle made an immediate impact the following year in his full-season debut by slashing .281/.319/.426 with 10 home runs and 28 doubles over 115 games with Class A Delmarva.
He made even greater strides at the plate in this past season, first in the Carolina League, where he posted a .314/.343/.542 line with 15 homers and 35 doubles across 88 games with Class A Advanced Frederick en route to a Double-A promotion in mid-July.
On top of the inherent challenges of being a 20-year-old in Double-A, Mountcastle also was asked by the Orioles to move from shortstop, the position he had played his entire career up to that point, to third base.
"It was pretty smooth," he said regarding the transition. "There are double plays I need to work on that are a little bit different than shortstop, with arm angles and stuff like that. But outside of that I feel pretty confident over there."
Meanwhile, the right-handed hitting Mountcastle was challenged at the plate for the first time in his career. In 39 games with Bowie, he batted .222/.239/.366, albeit with three homers and 13 more doubles.
• Baltimore's Top 30 Prospects
"It was a great learning experience for me," said Mountcastle, who finished his season with a .287/.312/.489 line, 18 home runs and a Minor League-leading 48 doubles between the two levels. "Facing that higher-level pitching and competition, it was definitely something I took a lot from."
Any of his struggles from Double-A certainly haven't followed Mountcastle into the AFL, where he's now hit safely in eight straight games with a six-game RBI streak for the Salt River Rafters after going hitless in his first two contests. He's batting .268 (11-for-41) overall with two homers, three doubles and eight RBIs.
"Baseball -- you're going to fail, it's going to happen," he said. "You just have to keep your head up and stay confident."
Orioles hitters in the Fall League
Steve Wilkerson, IF -- The switch-hitting utility player, an eighth-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, turned in is his best offensive season to date as he established career highs in most categories while making a smooth progression up to Double-A. Wilkerson, 25, has continued to swing a hot bat in the Fall League, posting a .321 average with four extra-base hits in his first eight games.
Anthony Santander, OF (BAL No. 9) -- The Orioles were able to keep Santander, whom they selected from the Indians system in the December Rule 5 Draft, on their 25-man roster for the entire season thanks largely to a strained right forearm that sidelined the 23-year-old (on the 60-day DL) until mid-August. Once healthy, Santander collected 11 hits in 30 at-bats (.267 average) over parts of 13 games in the big leagues while seeing time at both outfield corners.
Orioles pitchers in the Fall League
Keegan Akin, LHP (BAL No. 8) -- A second-round Draft pick in 2016, Akin is pitching in the Fall League as a 22-year-old after a promising but inconsistent first full season with Frederick. He fared much better during the second half after taking a nearly two-week break to work on his mechanics, only to have his progress halted by a trip to the disabled list early in August. Pitching out the bullpen this fall, the 6-foot, 225-pounder has given up one earned run on five hits in seven innings (four appearances). He's utilized his full four-pitch mix in spite of the relief role, throwing a fastball that's been up to 96 mph while sitting mostly 91-94 along with a slider, a curveball and a changeup, all of which typically register in the lower 80s.
Luis Gonzalez, LHP -- Gonzalez, 25, turned in a breakout performance in 2017, his eighth professional season and his third straight year in the Carolina League. He appeared in a career-high 36 games for the Keys, posting a 2.47 ERA with 75 strikeouts and a .173 batting average against in 62 innings. Armed with a 92-94 mph two-seam fastball and a mid-80s cutter, Gonzalez is capable of getting out hitters on both sides of the plate, and he actually fared much better against righties (.130 BAA) than lefties (.241) during the regular season.
Jesus Liranzo, RHP (BAL No. 22) -- Liranzo's stuff took a step back with Bowie during the regular season as he shifted between the bullpen and rotation. He struggled similarly in both roles, and he now owns an 11.57 ERA, with more walks (6) than strikeouts (3), through 4 2/3 innings (four appearances) in the Fall League.
Tanner Scott, LHP (BAL No. 6) -- The 2017 Futures Game selection is back in the Fall League for the third straight year, this time with a taste of the big leagues under his belt. The 23-year-old southpaw was rewarded with a mid-September callup after an impressive Double-A campaign in which he posted a 2.22 ERA with a .188 batting average against and 87 strikeouts over 69 innings (24 starts). He appeared in two games out of the Orioles' bullpen down the stretch, allowing two runs in one inning in his big league debut against Boston before striking out one of the two batters he faced versus Tampa Bay three days later.
"After I was up there -- it wasn't for long -- but it shows you how amazing it is, and I definitely want to get back there," said Scott. "I'm going to work on everything I can to get up there again and stay up there. It's the big leagues -- it's still my dream to get there and be there for a while."
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.