The Orioles are in the midst of a full rebuild, and while it doesn't look like they'll compete for the American League East title anytime soon, they do have some intriguing prospects who could contribute to the major league team in the near future.
One is Double-A Bowie outfielder Ryan McKenna. He posted the best numbers of his career with High-A Frederick last season, hitting .377/.467/.556 during 67 games, but he finished the season on a bit of a down note. He struggled with the Baysox, for whom he hit .239/.341/.338 during 60 games following a promotion from the Keys.
"I think one of the biggest differences is the environment change. You've got a lot of older guys here in Double-A," McKenna said on
Glenn Clark Radio
April 3. "A little bit more experience behind their play and their mentality, but it's the same game. Just learning the game within the game a little bit and really trying to hone in on those opportunities for you to scratch out a run when you can."
After the season ended, McKenna went out west to play in the Arizona Fall League. He found his swing again, slashing .344/.474/.590 during 17 games.
The Fall League typically attracts many of MLB's top prospects; Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado and other current stars having played in that league in the past. The competition McKenna saw in Arizona was some of the best he's played against, and it's an experience he could draw on in the future. He has reached base in 10 of 29 plate appearances so far for the Baysox this season.
"I would say it's probably right up as high as I've played so far," McKenna said of the Fall League. "You had a lot of highly touted guys that have been scouted for a while and have been under the microscope of the baseball world. ... The talent was definitely pretty high, I would say."
After his impressive showing in the Fall League, McKenna received a non-roster invite to big league spring training in Sarasota, Fla. Although there was very little chance that he'd make it all the way through and onto the Orioles' 25-man roster, his first taste of big league camp was still a success in his eyes.
Brandon Hyde, the Orioles' first-year manager, has already made a positive impact on the club, according to McKenna. He has also created a fun environment in the clubhouse; McKenna cited the Orioles' first win of the season, which they
by showering Hyde with beer while he was seated in a laundry cart.
"Being in big league camp this year, for the first part of it, was huge just to feel that presence that they set, that tone that they set really at the beginning," McKenna said. "Brandon Hyde and [general manager] Mike Elias, they've done a great job so far of really just kind of setting the tone and allowing us, as players, to be who we are. ... It's definitely fun to be around and to be a part of."
To hear more from McKenna, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Bowie Baysox