Each night from Friday on, the Norfolk Tides’ lineup will read like a who’s who of Orioles top hitting prospects: Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo, Heston Kjerstad, Connor Norby and Kyle Stowers, to name a few.

Who is responsible for the daily work, instruction and support meant to help polish off the final developmental steps and deliver these players to Baltimore ready to contribute? That would be Mike Montville, a newcomer to the organization joining manager Buck Britton’s staff as Norfolk’s hitting coach with one of the rarest responsibilities the minors can provide.

“It’s an interesting challenge, in a way, where you have players who could very easily be in the big leagues in a lot of spots, and even in our spot, but it’s maybe just not their time at this moment, or there’s maybe something we can spend a little time working on getting a little better at so, when their time does come, they feel fully prepared,” Montville said. “That’s my goal. Let’s make sure they’re fully prepared and addressing all the things that we need to address.

“But also I’m really excited to have the conversations and game feedback and navigate it with them to make sure they’re in a good headspace as much as possible. Because, obviously, they’re super talented. I guess I’m more excited for the relationship side of it, keeping us all moving in the same direction and getting them ready for the big leagues. It’s not like I’m coming in here to overhaul swings. I don’t need to do that. These kids are really good. My job is to literally help them continue to be good and keep getting better at all the little things that make them great, and make it so they, A, are ready to go to the big leagues when the opportunity presents itself, and, B, stick there.”

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Montville, a 32-year-old New Hampshire native, played at Maryland from 2011 to 2014 before finishing his career at Southern New Hampshire. He played three years of independent ball in the Can-Am League, but the end of his playing career came with the knowledge that he had missed out on his full potential.

Be it injuries, skill deficiencies or mentality, Montville said, he “could never put everything together as a player, consistently, over time,” and sought answers as to why. He decided to learn more about strength training, consulting with physical therapists and doing research on how the body moves. He dug into swing training and the modern, progressive ways quality and consistency are taught.

“I started into all of these different categories, and when I was done playing I saw a need for better training environments and ways to help kids,” Montville said. “I didn’t want what I felt like happened to me to happen to anyone else. I just wanted to give kids the resources and the road map to get better, especially at a younger age.”

Infielder Coby Mayo is one of the many high-profile hitting prospects in Norfolk. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

That came in the form of Powerhouse Sports, a facility Montville founded in 2018. He leaned more toward large group work than personal lessons, and, right before the pandemic, a friend with the Red Sox asked if he’d come onboard. They valued the progressive swing and movement instruction he was utilizing and his ability to organize a larger-scale program. Had the pandemic not hit in 2020, he would have worked at their complex league affiliate in Florida.

Instead, he was elevated to assistant hitting coach at Triple-A Worcester, working with longtime Red Sox minor league hitting coach Rich Gedman from 2021 to 2023. Montville said the lessons from Gedman were invaluable.

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“You just can’t dismiss the stuff from the older guys — how they played, what they learned, how they processed things, how they went about things, because there’s so much value in people who the only thing they’ve learned from is watching the game and keeping it simple.”

He came onto the Orioles’ radar after the 2022 season, when he served as a coach for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, a team that had several Orioles prospects assigned to it, including Kjerstad. Vice president of player development and domestic scouting Matt Blood was impressed with how Montville worked and received good feedback from the team’s hitters there.

It wasn’t long before that impression benefited both sides. The Red Sox moved on from Montville as their front office turned over, and the Orioles’ restructuring on the hitting side in the minors left a gap at Triple-A.

“He was, in my mind, a turnkey, great fit for our organization,” Blood said. “Normally guys like that just don’t come available and, for whatever reason, he did.”

Montville feels the fit is a similarly strong one. He was heartened to see in his time at major league camp, where the Triple-A staff spent its spring, that a lot of the drills and methods used are ones he utilized at his facility. He also enjoys the youth and energy of not only the players he’s working with but the staff, who he said fit his desire to “be around people that were working for the right things and the right reasons.”

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And that’s leaving out perhaps the biggest selling point: “Obviously, the players.”

He saw Norfolk several times each season the last few years with Worcester, and the level of talent was hard to miss. When he got to see them work in spring training, he saw why.

“The players that had been coming up through this system all worked really well, and they had a really good feel for getting in and challenging themselves and doing things that were going to actually make them better, and it wasn’t just like only working on the swing,” Montville said.

He described the program and the day-to-day work as refreshing in that there wasn’t too much technology or mechanical work but a “healthy balance.” He spent camp with many of the players who will be with him in Norfolk this year, and he believes he can convey something to them to sustain their work and spirits as the season grinds on: They’re going to contribute in Baltimore this summer.

“My job is to also help the big league team win by making sure these guys are prepped,” Montville said. “You’re not just working for where you’re at; you’re also looking to help a bigger picture. You’re helping an individual. I think these kids know they’re an important part of this team, because their opportunity could come at any point. There’s a really cool dynamic between all of it that I’m excited for.”

Jon Meoli is the Baltimore Banner's Orioles columnist and head women's ice hockey coach at Loyola University Maryland.

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