Gloves are popping, bats are cracking, and the sun is shining…in Sarasota, Florida that is. Yes, the wait for baseball will linger on for a little less than two months in Baltimore, and just under four months in Aberdeen. However, 2019 Spring Training has begun for the Orioles. In a season with new leadership, new ideas and new methods, it is a great time for O's fans to be optimistic, and possibly even more so for former Aberdeen IronBirds who are participating in Spring Training. It is time to catch the eyes of management and turn the dream of making it to the big leagues into reality. With a new GM in Mike Elias, the door of opportunity could not be wider for the young players looking to make their mark at the major league level. Here are some former IronBirds who are fighting for their spot heading into the 2019 season:
David Hess | RHP - Coming off a 3-10 season, David Hess certainly is looking to come back dealing higher quality pitches. Last season, Hess accumulated a 4.88 ERA. This is a tough number to overcome offensively and with just over 100 innings pitched, he will want to lower runs being scored significantly. Hess has a great arm and with 74 strikeouts, he was averaging .71 strikeouts per inning pitched. Hess averaged at least 1 strikeout per inning which is helpful for any defensive effort and the 25-year-old will be primed and ready to help bolster the defensive efforts for the Orioles this season.
Ryan McKenna | CF - Grinding in the minor leagues can be difficult, and Ryan McKenna is doing just that. After being drafted by the Orioles in 2015, Mckenna has worked himself up to be a consistent Double-A player with the Bowie Baysox. Since 2015, he has earned a batting average of .277 and even more impressively boasts an OBP of .362. Combining these two stats and his 19 homeruns in the minors, there is some offensive talent here that the Orioles will be looking develop into major league talent. Ryan will surely be looking to make that breakthrough this season to the majors. Committing only 10 errors since 2015, he is a consistent presence the Orioles will be keeping their eye on this season.
Ryan Mountcastle | 3B - Being teammates with Ryan McKenna seemingly since being drafted in 2015, Mountcastle has also established himself in the Orioles organization playing for the Bowie Baysox this past season. Batting like McKenna, Mountcastle has swung his way to a batting average of .289 and an OBP of .323, almost mirroring his teammate's stats. Mountcastle is a left sided infielder who came into the system as a SS but currently resides at 3B for the Baysox. Holding down short and the hot corner, Mountcastle has kept his errors to a minimum having only been charged with 24 since 2015. With all the roster moves being made and slight uncertainty of the Orioles infield, Mountcastle will be looking to make a strong effort to continue the climb towards the majors.
Cedric Mullins - By far the most established former IronBirds player at Spring Training for the Orioles, Cedric Mullins has grown into who could be a household name for the Orioles. Holding down center field the latter part of the 2018 season was no easy task, especially considering the shoes he was filling in Adam Jones. Cedric is an incredible fielder, great speed, good arm and has all the makings of a major league outfielder. However, he will be looking to improve his hitting this season in a big way. Mullins ended the 2018 season with an average of .235 and 4 homeruns. Cedric will be eager to get more games under his belt and settle into a groove as a regular in the O's lineup.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.