Ryan Mountcastle spent the first month of the season just trying to keep his head above water. He did that and then some, and a turnaround that began in May resulted in a breakout June in which the young Orioles slugger was named the American League Rookie of the Month for June.
“It means a lot,” Mountcastle said. “There’s a lot of good rookies in the AL, and to be named Player of the Month is pretty cool.”
Mountcastle hit .198 with one home run and a .515 OPS in April, but was better in May and was honored for a month of June in which he hit .327 with a 1.015 OPS and nine home runs. At .263 with a .770 OPS and 14 home runs while driving in 47 runs to put him near the top of the rookie leaderboards despite the slow start.
Mountcastle ranks second among American League rookies in home runs and RBIs.
“The first month and a half was tough, but I just had to stay confident know that I’m better than what I was playing at,” he said.
“I feel pretty good how it’s gone so far. I’ve handled a little of the different adversities, and I’m just going to keep trying to keep my head up and keep grinding every day.”
Mountcastle’s ascendance has come as the rookie has moved between first base, left field, and designated hitter after some struggles as the everyday left fielder early. Because of that, he’s been worth 0.3 wins above replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs.
The last Orioles player to win Rookie of the Month was left-hander Brian Matusz in August 2010. Mountcastle was also named the American League’s Player of the Week on June 6. He’s just the sixth Orioles player to earn the honor, which began in 2001.
Harvey back on injured list
The Orioles’ star-crossed former top pick Hunter Harvey is back on the injured list with a right lat strain, the team announced, after Harvey felt shoulder discomfort warming up to enter Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros and wasn’t able to be used.
Harvey missed the first two months of the season recovering from an oblique strain, and only pitched in the second half of the shortened 2020 season after arm soreness. Since he was the Orioles’ 2013 first-round pick, Harvey has dealt with a variety of arm and shoulder injuries that have kept him from the mound for any extended period of time.
Left-hander Zac Lowther replaced Harvey in the Orioles bullpen for Friday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels.