Up next on The Baltimore Battery Prospect Profiles Countdown is stud corner infielder Ryan Mountcastle! The 22-year-old has a powerful swing and dominant presence at the plate, but can the 2015 first round pick improve his defense and become a regular in the Orioles’ starting lineup?
Drafted out of high school, Mountcastle worked his way up the minor league ranks quickly. He made his way to Double-A Bowie by the age of 20 in 2017 and played the entirety of last season in Triple-A Norfolk. His stellar season with the Tides earned Mountcastle 2019 International League MVP honors.
Through 127 games in Norfolk, Mountcastle hit for a .312 average, while leading the league with 162 hits and 274 total bases. He crushed 25 home runs and 83 RBI in a season that turned heads throughout the Orioles’ fanbase.
Mountcastle’s swing and power at the plate makes him a top hitter in Baltimore’s farm system, as well as one of the best minor league hitters during the 2019 season. The Florida native has a 6’3” frame that creates a pure swing at the plate, in addition to quick bat speed.
Discipline at the plate was a concern for Mountcastle, as he struck out 130 times and was only walked in 24 at-bats. Defense and plate discipline are clear issues for Mountcastle, yet his skill at the plate still makes him a worth while prospect.
While fielding has been a weakness, the Orioles are committed to taking their time in moving Mountcastle around the diamond to find a sweet spot. After being called up from Bowie to Norfolk, the Tides switched him from third base over to first.
Mountcastle’s range is not as strong as other top third base prospects, so first base seems like a more natural fit. Mountcastle even received some reps in left field for the Tides. If nothing else, his versatility could become a strength when called up to Brandon Hyde’s squad in Baltimore.
Although his arm is still a weakness, Mountcastle’s footwork defensively has improved in the last year. For this reason, I see his best fit at first base.
The Orioles could experiment with Mountcastle at second base this season if Hanser Alberto cannot repeat his surprisingly solid 2019 season. Additionally, third base may be where Mountcastle has to settle in and become a regular since it is one of Baltimore’s weakest positions.
At just 22 years old, Mountcastle still has plenty of time to overcome his defensive woes, while continuing to dominate opposing pitchers. His pure swing and mechanics at the plate are the reason for such a high rating in the Orioles’ prospect rankings. Mountcastle is the real deal, and 2020 could be the season that we see him make his mark at Camden Yards.
Following a career-best season in 2019, expect to see Mountcastle make his MLB debut at some point this season. If he can continue to improve defensively, while acclimating his bat against major league pitchers, Orioles fans have every reason to be ecstatic about Mountcastle’s future with the club.
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