Upon hearing the numbers Ryan Mountcastle posted recently, Class A Advanced Frederick hitting coach Kyle Moore was impressed but not shocked by the production from his new cleanup batter.
Baltimore's No. 4 prospect registered his Carolina League-leading 34th double and added four singles in his second career five-hit game as the Keys fell to the Buies Creek Astros, 6-5, on Thursday at Jim Perry Stadium. Hitting fourth over the past three games, Mountcastle has racked up nine hits -- including four two-baggers -- in 14 at-bats.
"I didn't know he was that hot, but we know that he's a very good hitter, so it's not surprising at the same time," Moore said. "It's kind of just backing off and letting the game come to him."
Gameday box score
The first five-hit performance of Mountcastle's three-year career came on June 6, 2016 with Class A Delmarva in the South Atlantic League. Three of his five hits against Buies Creek led off an inning, a situation in which he has 24 hits -- including four homers and eight doubles -- in 54 at-bats.
"We try not to get into too many specifics with approach. Just see the ball, be on the fastball and that's kind of what he did pretty much every pitch," Moore said. "I don't think his approach varies very much, whether it's starting an inning off or hitting with a runner on second base. He does a really good job of maintaining his style of approach and a pretty high level of focus."
Leading off the second inning against Matt Bower, the 20-year-old belted a double to right field and later scored. The two-bagger extended his lead over Carolina's Jake Gatewood, the Brewers No. 25 prospect, who is second on the circuit with 30.
"He hits the ball on the sweet spot a lot, which translates to a lot of extra-base hits," Moore said of Baltimore's first-round pick in 2015. "The guy's just got a knack for finding the barrel, and when the ball comes off the bat like he does, extra-base hits just show up."
In the fourth, the Florida native led off with a single to left, but was picked off by Bower. With two outs and Jay Gonzalez on first against No. 29 Astros prospect Jorge Alcala in the sixth, Mountcastle singled again to left but was stranded.
The Winter Park, Florida native added an infield hit to the right side to start a three-run eighth against left-hander Sebastian Kessay (6-2) and later scored on a two-RBI double to center by Ricardo Andujar. With one out in the ninth, Mountcastle drilled another liner up the middle for his fifth hit.
"We talked to him, maybe a few days ago, just about not trying to do too much. Not trying to take the whole team and really put it on your shoulders, get three hits in one at-bat and that kind of approach," Moore said. "I think he just relaxed a little bit and I think he's just decided to take a solid approach at the plate ... that relaxation and that mind-set has really paid off for him."
The Keys led in the ninth, 5-4, but reliever Tanner Chleborad (0-3) was tagged for a game-tying double by Anthony Hermelyn before No. 28 Astros prospect Stephen Wrenn ended the game with an RBI single.
Batting behind Mountcastle, Shane Hoelscher collected three singles.
Wrenn, who was 0-for-10 in his previous three games, finished with two hits, while Astros No. 21 prospect Jake Rogers belted a two-run homer for Buies Creek.