Iowa Hawkeyes

Minor league baseball notebook: former Hawkeye shortstop Mason McCoy off to torrid 2019 start

Hitting over .400 the first month-plus of season and was just promoted to Double-A

Iowa’s Mason McCoy (1) gets a Maryland runner out at third before throwing to first for a double play during a game at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Sunday March 27, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Mason McCoy (1) gets a Maryland runner out at third before throwing to first for a double play during a game at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Sunday March 27, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — He has always felt like the “other” guy in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. But a month and a week into the 2019 season, Mason McCoy has just been “THE” guy.

The former University of Iowa shortstop had two hits in his early April debut and his bat has just continued to be hot. Lava-esque, forging steel-like hot.

McCoy took a .406 batting average into Saturday. You heard right: .406.

He hit .379 in a month’s worth of action (27 games, specifically) for high-Class A Frederick, which prompted a promotion last week to Double-A Bowie. All McCoy has done with the Baysox is go 10 for his first 17, including a four-hit night Wednesday at Altoona and a 3-for-3 game Friday night against Richmond.

“I fixed my approach,” McCoy said. “I did a lot of approach work. At the beginning of last year, we were trying to fix some stuff with my swing, and I tried to carry that over to this offseason. I’ve just really locked into my approach.”

McCoy specifically mentioned the work he has done with Frederick hitting coach Bobby Rose.

“Kind of the process of every at-bat,” McCoy said. “With a soft-throwing lefty on the mound compared to a hard-throwing lefty. As you move up, you can kind of predict what (pitch) is coming next.

“It’s being able to trust what you can do, if that makes sense. Like if a guy likes to throw me fastballs away, then late in the count he likes to come sliders in, it’s being able to sit on the fastballs. Even if you take a couple of curveballs right down the middle to start the AB, it’s still trusting that, hey, I’m going to eventually get that fastball middle, away. Stuff like that.”

McCoy, 24, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Orioles in 2017 and hit .301 in 53 games with Short-season-A Aberdeen that summer after signing. He hit .266 last season at low-A Delmarva, but just shy of .300 the final two-plus months.

He has been on virtually everything so far this season.

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“I feel like I’ve always been confident when I get up to bat,” said McCoy, from Washington, Ill. “You can’t be a good hitter unless you have that mentality that you are better than the pitcher. But I guess I’m just kind of in a zone right now. I’m comfortable, I’m confident with what I’m trying to do. I used to be like a pull guy, but I’ve really worked on trying to hit the ball the opposite way this season. Spread out that spray chart. Last night, for instance, they put a pull shift on and left the ‘4’ hole wide open, and I was able to hit line drives there three times for hits. Being able to do that, I guess, has been able to help my game as well.”

McCoy has never been real heralded since turning pro. Baltimore drafted a high-school shortstop in the second round in 2017 and a college shortstop in the supplemental first round last summer.

Those two guys (Adam Hall and Cadyn Grenier) are widely ranked in the top 20 or so of Orioles’ prospects. McCoy is not ... yet.

“I feel like I’m always trying to make a name for myself,” McCoy said. “I’ve always kind of been, not the low man on the totem pole, but overlooked in an essence. But I know that if I can just go out and play the game the way I’m capable of, then I’ll let the rest take care of itself and good things will come. That’s just what I’ve been trying to do. The game is supposed to be fun. When people start pressing and trying to do too much, trying to hit home runs and trying to do more than they’re capable of ... that’s when people start struggling.”

Around the horn

— The poor Quad Cities River Bandits had their three-game “home” series against the Great Lakes Loons cancelled this week when a suitable field could not be found to host it. Quad Cities, of course, has played just two of its first 31 Midwest League games at Modern Woodmen Park because of persisent and record-setting flooding of the adjacent Mississippi River. The River Bandits played three games against Lansing at the University of Iowa’s Duane Banks Field on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and thought it had secured the field at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., for the Great Lakes series Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But the Los Angeles Dodgers, Great Lakes’ parent club, balked at playing there, as was their right, because of lighting that didn’t meet Minor League Baseball standards and the absence of clubhouses attached to dugouts. Stadiums at nearby Cedar Rapids, Clinton and Burlington were not available for the series because of previously scheduled events.

— Despite its traveling ways, Quad Cities leads the MWL with a 21-10 record. That includes a nine-game win streak going into its series Monday at Cedar Rapids. QC has excelled with the help of a pitching staff that ranks a close second to Burlington in team earned run average (2.61 to 2.59) and is first in strikeouts (11.7 a game).

— Where’s Wander? That has been probably the most-asked question at Veterans Memorial Stadium recently. Shortstop Wander Javier is considered one of the parent Minnesota Twins’ top five prospects and was supposed to play this season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. But he remains in extended spring training after incurring a quadriceps injury late in the spring while playing a major league game with Minnesota. He also had shoulder surgery last year, which prevented him from playing at all last season. Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said last week he does not know when Javier will be ready to join the Kernels but assumed it would be sooner than later.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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