O's prospect Mountcastle named MVP in Minors

August 27th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- From wall to wall, ’s success at the upper rungs of the Minor Leagues was plain to see. On Tuesday, it became official. Is a call to the big leagues next?

Mountcastle was rewarded for his monster season at Triple-A Norfolk with the International League’s Most Valuable Player Award, the circuit announced.

The distinction comes on the heels of a dominant summer, during which the 22-year-old showed why he’s regarded as one of the better hitting prospects in all of baseball. He entered play on Tuesday pacing the International League in hits (153) and total bases (262), hitting .308/.340/.528 with 25 home runs through 121 games, while ranking among the league leaders in extra-base hits (58, second), RBIs (80, fourth) and runs scored (79, fifth).

Mountcastle, the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is the first Tides player ever to win the award.

“We’ve had a lot of bright spots and good stories this year in our Minor League system, and Ryan is one of those,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s swung the bat really well at a young age. To do that at Triple-A at his age is really impressive. I love the progress he’s making and hope he finishes the season strong.”

Now the question is whether that conclusion comes in Baltimore. Mountcastle presents perhaps the club’s most complex decision with regards to September call-ups, given the developmental, service time and roster considerations it involves. Hyde did not tip the organization’s hand when peppered on Tuesday, but the specific mention the skipper made of Mountcastle’s defense was notable.

While there is little debate in the organization that Mountcastle’s bat is at least close to big league ready, the Orioles still see room for growth with regards to his glove. Mountcastle’s production in the box this season came while shuttling between first base and left field, two new positions for the former shortstop-turned-third baseman.

If the Orioles view Mountcastle as a future DH, the reality is their roster is not in need of bat-first players right now. If he is promoted, Mountcastle would likely spend September scrapping for playing time behind Trey Mancini, DJ Stewart, Anthony Santander and others. Mountcastle is not currently on the 40-man roster, which presents another hurdle.

“He’s had a really nice year up until this point,” Hyde said. “I just want to see him improve. All the reports I’m getting is that he’s making a lot of improvements defensively, along with the offensive numbers, and that’s important for us.”

Trumbo back on the rehab trail

Mountcastle was joined in the Tides’ lineup on Tuesday by , who began his latest and last rehab assignment of the year as he looks to return from right knee surgery. Trumbo, who hasn’t appeared in the Majors since last August, had three prior rehab attempts shut down due to lingering discomfort in the knee. He entered Tuesday having homered twice in 10 total Minor League games spread across May, June and July.

The Orioles are preparing for the possibility of Trumbo being healthy enough to join the active roster in September, and they are hopeful this latest slate of games helps him accomplish that goal. If not, the 33-year-old has indicated he could consider retirement in the offseason. Trumbo is in the final year of a three-year, $37.5 million contract.

From the trainer’s room

Two days after leaving Sunday’s win over the Rays due to injuries, Hanser Alberto (head contusion and cervical strain) and Renato Nunez (left hamstring tightness) were both back in the Orioles’ lineup for Tuesday’s Beltway Series opener.

Alberto said he passed concussion protocol twice -- on both Sunday and Monday -- before asking into Tuesday’s lineup, in which he was playing third and batting leadoff. Alberto was removed from Sunday’s game after colliding with Rays shortstop Willy Adames’ knee sliding into second base.

“I think he probably could have used a breather yesterday, so the off-day worked out great,” Hyde said. “He was pretty sore, but he woke up, got checked out, was cleared to play. But I probably would have given him a day to relax.”