MESA, Ariz. -- The numbers may not have been there, but Ryan Mountcastle felt good about the way he was swinging the bat in the Arizona Fall League. The Orioles' No. 3 prospect felt he was hitting the ball hard, but just happened to be hitting the ball at people.Well,
MESA, Ariz. -- The numbers may not have been there, but Ryan Mountcastle felt good about the way he was swinging the bat in the Arizona Fall League. The Orioles' No. 3 prospect felt he was hitting the ball hard, but just happened to be hitting the ball at people.
Well, instead of hitting it at people, Mountcastle hit it over everyone as his two-run homer jump-started the Salt River offense and helped snap a three-game losing streak in an 8-2 win over Mesa on Tuesday afternoon.
The 20-year-old, who finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs to boost his AFL average to .236, picked a good time to go deep as Orioles manager Buck Showalter was in attendance for the game.
"Whenever somebody important is here, you try to play good, play hard," Mountcastle said. "Just like every other day, you can't try to do too much when he's here and I felt good today."
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The Rafters offense was limited to just three hits through five innings as Tigers No. 28 prospect Spencer Turnbull fired 3 2/3 scoreless frames for Mesa in what was his best start of the AFL thus far.
However, the Salt River bats came to life in the sixth as the team scored six runs on six hits, including three homers in the span of 10 pitches.
"I don't know," Mountcastle said when asked what changed in the sixth. "It just all came together in one sweep. All the guys felt confident and we just rallied around that."
Orioles No. 9 prospect Anthony Santander started the scoring with an RBI single before Mountcastle opened the floodgates with a two-run homer to left.
"Just trying to get something I could drive to the outfield and score a couple runs," Mountcastle said. "Just got a pitch I could hit and hit it out."
Mountcastle, a first-round pick from the 2015 Draft, hit .287/.312/.489 with 18 homers in 127 games between Class A Advanced Frederick and Double-A Bowie this season.
While his bat has been impressive, Mountcastle has also been tasked with learning a new position. After spending the bulk of his career at shortstop, Mountcastle played 37 games at third base this season, a position he's working on in Arizona.
"Starting to feel more confident over there the more games I play," Mountcastle said. "I'm starting to feel pretty good over there."
After Mountcastle got the ball rolling, the rest of the Rafters offense caught fire.
Two batters later, Corey Ray (Brewers' No. 2, No. 58 overall) hit his first homer of the AFL, a two-run homer to left, and on the next pitch the Marlins' Rodrigo Vigil hit a homer of his own.
Vigil, who finished 2-for-4, later added an RBI single as Salt River extended the lead with a run in the eighth.
Salt River also received a strong start from Adrian Houser, who lowered his AFL ERA to 3.38 through four starts.
Houser, who spent the first half of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery in July 2016, threw 30 of his 47 pitches for strikes, struck out two and gave up one hit over 3 2/3 scoreless frames.
While Houser kept Mesa off the board, the Solar Sox did scratch across a pair of runs in the sixth behind a trio of Cubs prospects.
David Bote, who is hitting .353, was hit by a pitch to open the frame and scored two batters later on an RBI single from Ian Rice. Jason Vosler then followed that up with an RBI hit of his own.
William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.