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Mountcastle to get first-base reps at Triple-A

Orioles' No. 2-ranked prospect played third base in 2018
@JoeTrezz
March 30, 2019

NEW YORK -- One of the Orioles' top prospects will begin 2019 just a step from the big leagues. Ryan Mountcastle, the organization's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline will start the year at Triple-A Norfolk, the Tides announced. The 22-year-old makes the jump after a strong showing at Double-A

NEW YORK -- One of the Orioles' top prospects will begin 2019 just a step from the big leagues.

Ryan Mountcastle, the organization's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline will start the year at Triple-A Norfolk, the Tides announced. The 22-year-old makes the jump after a strong showing at Double-A Bowie in 2018, when he hit .297 with a .806 OPS and 13 home runs in his second stint at that level. A shortstop turned third baseman, Mountcastle is expected to see significant playing time at first base this year after dabbling at the position this spring.

That should be more than doable with the Tides, who break camp without a natural first baseman on their roster. Instead Norfolk will carry five utility types -- Jace Peterson, Christopher Bostick, Jack Reinheimer, Zach Vincej and Stevie Wilkerson -- none of whom should block Mountcastle's ability to get reps at first.

He will be joined by five more of the club's Top 30 prospects: outfielders Austin Hays (No. 4) and DJ Stewart (16), left-hander Keegan Akin (6), and righties Branden Kline (22) and Luis Ortiz (19). Anthony Santander and Chance Sisco are also officially on the roster after white-hot springs mostly spent with the big league club.

It will also mark the first season at Triple-A for manager Gary Kendall, who spent the past eight seasons at the helm with Bowie. The Tides open their schedule Thursday at Gwinnett.

Additionally, the Bowie Baysox announced their roster. Notable Orioles prospects beginning the year at Double-A include outfielders Yusniel Diaz (No. 1 per MLB Pipeline) and Ryan McKenna (7), righties Hunter Harvey (12), Zach Pop (20) and Dillon Tate (18) and infielder Rylan Bannon (23).

Cobb on track
Right-hander Alex Cobb rejoined the Orioles in New York on Saturday, a day after testing his strained right groin in a Minor League game in Florida. Manager Brandon Hyde confirmed that puts Cobb on track to return from the injured list when eligible next week, in time to start the club's home opener against the Yankees.

"He feels great," Hyde said. "It looks like we're in the clear and he's ready for that home opener."

Originally tabbed the club's Opening Day starter, Cobb was forced to miss that assignment after tweaking his right groin during his final start of Spring Training. His return would help stabilize a rotation -- the Orioles used an opener Saturday to plug holes during his absence. Cobb went 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA over 28 starts in 2018, his first season in Baltimore.

Roster moves
Joining Stewart and Santander in the Tides' outfield will be Mason Williams, who the Orioles signed to a Minor League contract this week. Williams, 27, is a career .289 hitter across 76 Major League games, spent with the Yankees and Reds from 2015-18. He plugs a temporary hole in the Tides' roster formed when Hays sprained his left thumb last week. Hays is expected to be sidelined for several weeks.

The club also announced it acquired infielder Yeltsin Gudino from the Blue Jays for cash considerations. Gudino, 22, has been assigned to Class A Advanced Frederick.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.