Mountcastle headlines Minor League awards

O's honor farm system's scouts, coaches, players at Camden Yards

September 22nd, 2019

BALTIMORE -- With a backdrop of red warehouse brick behind them, the Orioles spent Saturday afternoon honoring the jewels of a farm system that spent 2019 improving by leaps and bounds. From an infusion of talent through the Draft to new organizational philosophies and technological investments, change came to all rungs of the Orioles’ Minor League operations this year.

“With where we are at the big league level, with where we’re at organizationally, it’s exactly what you want to see,” O's executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. “We’re going to try to build on that and keep seeing the farm system rankings and the talent level go up.”

Both of those things happened over the course of this summer, largely thanks to the effort of the individuals recognized Saturday. Here are the recipients of the Orioles’ annual awards for player development and scouting:

Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year
INF/OF Ryan Mountcastle

The Orioles No. 4 prospect, Mountcastle was the clear choice to claim POY honors after his sensational year at Triple-A Norfolk, where he earned International League MVP honors. The 22-year-old hit .312/.344/.527 with 35 doubles, 25 homers and 83 RBIs over 127 games, pacing International League hitters in hits and total bases.

“I feel like I could help this team win some ballgames whenever they need me up here,” Mountcastle said. “I’m going to be ready when the opportunity comes.”

That it didn’t in September was largely the result of positional logjam at the big league level, though the O's would also like to see Mountcastle improve his plate discipline and settle into a defensive home. Still, Mountcastle's bat is polished enough to ticket his debut for some point in 2020.

Jim Palmer Minor League Co-Pitchers of the Year
RHP Grayson Rodriguez, RHP Michael Baumann

Ranked Baltimore's Nos. 2 and 9 prospects, respectively, Rodriguez and Baumann were two standouts in a system that saw several arms take major development steps forward. Rodriguez, 19, dominated the South Atlantic League in his first full season of pro ball, going 10-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 20 starts at Class A Delmarva.

“The goal at the beginning of the year was to get better each and every day,” Rodriguez said. “All the new stuff the organization is putting into our system, a lot of guys took it and ran with it. We saw success with it early and kept with it.”

Baumann was the system’s breakout star, compiling a 2.31 ERA after his midseason promotion to Double-A Bowie. Baumann threw a no-hitter in July and headed a staff that led Bowie to the Eastern League championship series.

“The biggest thing was my consistency, polishing up some secondary pitches and command,” Baumann said.

Managers of the Year
Bowie's Buck Britton, Delmarva's Kyle Moore, Gulf Coast League manager Alan Mills

In his first season leading the Baysox, Britton lead Bowie to the second-half Western Division title and eventually the Eastern League championship series for the second time in affiliate history. The Baysox began the season 7-23 before going 69-41 the rest of the way.

In his first season with Delmarva, Moore led the Shorebirds to the Northern Division title and the team’s first postseason birth since 2005. The Shorebirds set a franchise record with 90 wins. Under Mills, the GCL Orioles went from worst to first and became South Division champions. It was the first season in the GCL for Mills, the former Orioles bullpen coach.

Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award
Delmarva pitching coach Justin Ramsey

In his first season coaching pro ball after more than a decade in the college ranks, Ramsey oversaw one of the premier Minor League pitching staffs. With Rodriguez as their ace, the Shorebirds led the South Atlantic League in a slew of major pitching categories, including ERA, WHIP, strikeouts and fewest homers allowed. Ramsey helped apply the new philosophies and data-driven techniques that the Orioles spent the year implementing throughout the system.

“The fact that we got our pitching program off the ground this year and saw the results that we saw right away puts us ahead of schedule frankly from where I thought we might be at this point,” Elias said. “In terms of the talent level, I think were in a better spot that we were a year ago."

Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award
Thom Dreier

The area scout responsible for signing Rodriguez in 2018, Dreier suffered a cardiac arrest near his home in The Woodlands, Texas, earlier this year, but he has since made a full recovery. Dreier also won the award in '16.

Elrod Hendricks Minor League Community Service Award
LHP Cameron Bishop

A 26th-round pick in 2017, Bishop made 22 starts at Class A Advanced Frederick this season. He became an active member in the Frederick area community when he wasn’t on the mound, leading youth baseball camps throughout the summer. During the season, Bishop befriended a young student from the Maryland School for the Deaf named Ryder, who taught him how to sign “Come support the home team, the Frederick Keys” for a special video shown during Frederick’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Night.