Ryan Mountcastle has waited his entire life to make his major league debut. Now he'll just have to wait a little longer.
The 23-year-old slugger for the Orioles has essentially accomplished everything he could in the minor leagues. He climbed the organization's minor league ranks since the time he was drafted in 2015 and last season, in Triple-A Norfolk, he took off.
Mountcastle slashed .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs and was named the International League's Most Valuable Player.
Even still, he won't be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster this summer.
"They communicated with me, I think right before all the names came out and said I was going to the alternate site," Mountcastle said Monday. "A little upset, but at the end of the day they sent me down after spring to Triple-A and they said most of the guys they sent down were going to that alternate site."
With service time the major issue with Mountcastle, just a week away from the roster will give the Orioles another year of team control before he hits free agency. In essence, the Orioles are making a long-term play to save money on Mountcastle down the line.
"He wasn't one of the original players we brought in here," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Monday. "He's going to go to Bowie, get some work in and be ready for us sometime this summer."
Still, though, Mountcastle has work to do if he wants to become the everyday player like many expect him to become.
Last year in Norfolk, he played 81 games at third base, 84 games at first base and 26 in left field. But on Tuesday, Hyde indicated the team has basically moved on from trying Mountcastle at third base. Instead, they're repping him constantly in the outfield with a few drills at first base sprinkled in-between.
"You'll see him play the majority of time at left field, he might get a few reps at first base also, but we really want to make the primary focus left field because it's new to him," Hyde said. "It's important for him and for us for him to be able to play the outfield. At this point, we're not hitting him ground balls on the left side of the field, so we're really focusing on his defense in left field primarily and first base next."
In left field last year in Norfolk, his first season playing the outfield as a professional, he tallied a perfect fielding percentage and had 37 putouts with five assists.
"There's a lot that goes into the outfield," Mountcastle said. "Just getting better routes, that's all I was trying to do. Being able to put my head down and run and look up and be able to find the ball, stuff like that, as opposed to the infield. When you get a fly ball in the infield, you got your eyes on it the whole time. But when you've really gotta put your head down and run in the outfield, it's a little more tough."
While his adjustment to the outfield is the predominant focus and discussion surrounding Mountcastle, there are still things he's got to clean up before he makes a clean transition to the major leagues. Mountcastle, who is the 94th ranked prospect in baseball according to mlb.com, posted a 23.5 percent K-rate a season ago in Triple-A and just a 4.3 percent walk-rate.
The clear response to those questions about Mountcastle, however, are to let him give it a twirl at the major league level.
As for when he'll get that chance, though, remains to be seen.
"I worked my butt off my entire life to be a big leaguer," Mountcastle said. "I want to be able to be up there and help the team win. I think I bring enough to the table to do that. Hopefully I get that call this year."
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Ryan Mountcastle still patiently waiting for Orioles debut to come originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington