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Prospects Ryan Mountcastle, Tanner Scott headline Orioles' Arizona Fall League contingent

The Orioles will send infield prospect Ryan Mountcastle and left-handers Tanner Scott and Keegan Akin as part of their seven-player contingent to the Arizona Fall League, where they'll get further seasoning against the game's top prospects.

Mountcastle, Scott and Akin will be joined by left-hander Andrew Faulkner and infielder Steve Wilkerson, with a spot for a pitcher and an outfielder still to be determined. They'll play with the Salt River Rafters in the six-team league.

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"That's a good group," manager Buck Showalter said. "There are two more. I'm excited about them, too. It's like I tell people, they should try to come to spring training — that's going to be a good group to watch, there. I think a couple of them could be, depending on what goes on here the rest of the summer."

Mountcastle, 20, hit .314 with an .885 OPS for High-A Frederick before he was promoted to Double-A Bowie last month and shifted from shortstop to third base. The overall transition for him has been difficult, both offensively and defensively, but a five-game hitting streak has him batting .203 with a pair of home runs for the Baysox.

Scott, 23, will be making his third trip to the AFL, returning to a setting where he broke out onto the national scene in 2015. Then, he was a hard-throwing reliever whose triple-digit velocity tantalized scouts. Now, he's been working in three-inning stints in the Bowie starting rotation and has a 2.28 ERA in 67 innings with 83 strikeouts and 44 walks.

A blister problem cost him a few starts this month, though, and Showalter said there was an innings number they wanted to get him to that the fall league could help.

He'll likely continue to build innings in the fall league as the Orioles decide whether to keep him as a starter or shift him back to relief next season.

"There's a lot you could read into it, but none of it would tell what's going to happen," Showalter said. "I don't think there's any [decision]. I asked that question of [director of player development Brian Graham] the other day, what's he thinking down the road. I think they're going to continue to go down the starting thing. Obviously, he's got to go on the roster this year. You hate to send guys out there who are on the bubble about the roster, because it can work both ways with the Rule 5."

Akin, last year's second-round draft pick, started slowly in his full-season debut with an aggressive placement at Frederick. But the 22-year-old has a 2.97 ERA since he had a start skipped at the end of May, lowering his overall mark to 4.14 before he landed on the disabled list this month.

Faulkner, a 24-year-old left-hander acquired earlier this year from the Texas Rangers, has a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings with 32 strikeouts and 23 walks for Norfolk.

Wilkerson, 25, is batting .306 with an .802 OPS and 29 extra-base hits between Frederick and Bowie this year, and has played all four infield spots plus right field.

“If you’re sending guys out there, they’re not a secret,” Showalter said. “I think the Wilkerson kid has come on. I’m impressed with him. Switch-hitter, plus runner. Clemson kid, knows how to play. can play a lot of positions. I know it’s the first year he’s really taken off hitting at a high level. … I know he came close to being called up here a couple times when J.J. [Hardy] and [Ryan] Flaherty have been hurt. I like the idea that he can run. Good base runner and really understands the game. [Bowie manager Gary Kendall] calls him a winning player.”

Along with Scott, Wilkerson must be added to the 40-man roster this fall or exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

The Arizona Fall League begins Oct. 10.

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