A broken hand may have delayed the start of the season for Ryan Mountcastle, but it didn't really slow down a career that seems to be on the fast track to Camden Yards.
Baltimore's second-ranked prospect went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in his season debut as Double-A Bowie edged Hartford, 7-6, on Thursday night at Prince George's Stadium. Top Orioles prospect Austin Hays added two hits -- including a homer -- for the Baysox.
Video: Bowie's Mountcastle lines RBI single to left
Mountcastle suffered a broken hand after being hit by a pitch during a Triple-A Spring Training game on March 14. He was placed on the disabled list to begin the season and missed Bowie's first 32 games.
"I felt good out there," the Winter Park, Florida native said. "I was getting at-bats down in extended [spring training] and got comfortable before heading back up. But the pitching's a lot different [in Double-A] obviously. The guys are younger down there and more erratic, so it's a noticeable difference. But I felt ready and prepared to perform. I felt good tonight and saw the ball well."
Gameday box score
It didn't take MLB.com's No. 93 overall prospect long to get back into the swing of things. After flying out in his first at-bat, Mountcastle ripped an RBI single to left field in the fourth inning to plate Hays with the first Baysox run. He grounded a base hit to left and scored on a three-run homer by Aderlin Rodriguez in the fifth and beat out an infield single to shortstop in the seventh.
"Getting that first [hit] out of the way was nice," Mountcastle said. "It's always good when you can see a number up there on the scoreboard. Missing time isn't easy, but you can't be trying to overdo things based on what your teammates have already done. My overall power and RBI numbers may be down because I missed a month, but I'm just going to go out there and do my thing. It was fun being back out there with my teammates."
The Orioles are expecting big things from their 2015 first-round Draft pick, who carried a .286/.317/.448 career slash line into 2018. Mountcastle followed up a strong full-season campaign in 2016 with Class A Delmarva with a breakout performance last year split between two levels. The 21-year-old batted .314/.343/.542 with 15 homers and 47 RBIs in 88 games in the Carolina League, where he was named a Midseason and Postseason All-Star.
Video: Hays homers to left for Bowie
Mountcastle was promoted to Bowie on July 20 and struggled during his first go-around in the Eastern League before turning a corner. He hit .184 through his first 27 games but finished the year with hits in 11 of his last 12 games, including six extra-base hits and five RBIs. Overall, he batted .287/.312/.489 and led the Minors with 48 doubles. He belted 18 homers and plated 62 runs in 127 games.
"It's a different game [in Double-A]," Mountcastle said. "Everyone is more experienced and the pitchers are a lot better. I felt like I learned from the struggles I had at the beginning and began to really find out how pitchers wanted to attack me. I took those lessons about my weaknesses and went after them in the batting cage."
Seventh-ranked Orioles prospect Cedric Mullins added an RBI triple in support of Bowie starter John Means (1-4), who snapped a four-game losing streak. The 25-year-old southpaw scattered two runs on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts over a season-high seven innings.
Scott Burcham went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and two RBIs and Rockies No. 22 prospect Dom Nunez went deep for the second time in three games for the Yard Goats.
Hartford starter Ryan Castellani (2-2) was charged with seven runs on nine hits and a walk with one strikeout in seven innings. The No. 8 Rockies prospect hadn't surrendered more than two runs in any of his first six starts.