For months Orioles fans begged and begged for star prospect Ryan Mountcastle to be called up to the Majors; on Aug. 21, that wish came true, and he has lived up to expectations thus far.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Orioles to say the least. From sweeping the reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals to struggling mightily against the Blue Jays, there have been lots of positives and negatives to focus on with this team. With that being said, Mountcastle’s debut season and quality production could be one of the bright spots of the 2020 season.
The 23-year-old has played in 11 games for Baltimore following his late August debut. Mountcastle has hit .341 (14-for-41) with six RBI and five runs. His Aug. 30 two-homer game against the Blue Jays was the best showing thus far for Mountcastle, as he displayed flashes of what earned him International League MVP in 2019.
Orioles fans are excited about Mountcastle, as they should be, but how high is his ceiling?
With the shortened 2020 season, everything is a sample size of a normal MLB season. Starting pitchers like Tommy Milone are dealt after just six starts, and 40-year-old Nelson Cruz leads the league in home runs. As this shows, analysis and judgments will be made off a limited amount of appearances for Mountcastle.
Despite going 0-for-2 in his debut against the Red Sox, Mountcastle has not looked timid at the plate like some rookies might be in their first few games. In fact, Mountcastle even drew two walks in his debut in defiance to plate discipline being an issue on his scouting report.
Mountcastle has recorded a hit in all but two of the games following his debut and has had multi-hit performances in five games so far. Half of his RBI came in his two-home run game, but the Orioles as a whole have struggled with run production and leaving runners in scoring position lately.
Mountcastle’s 10 strikeouts are rather high, but rookies tend to struggle with K’s early in their career, and his accumulation of hits is a nice compromise. Plate discipline is an issue with Mountcastle, so we will have to keep an eye on this and hope that he continues to work on his strikeout numbers, as well as drawing more walks.
Defensively, it has been a work-in-progress the past couple years finding a sweet spot for Mountcastle. He played all over the diamond and seemed poised to be a corner infielder until the switch to outfield last season.
So far playing left field for the Orioles, Mountcastle’s athleticism and defensive work have been solid. He makes routine plays with ease and has flashed a few running catches so far. While I still prefer him to play on the diamond defensively, I think that he could become a solid defensive outfielder or be a utility plater with the versatility to switch from outfield to corner infield on any given night.
As a whole, Mountcastle has lived up to the hype so far in the majors and has been a very positive impact on the Orioles. He looks to be comfortable at the plate against MLB pitching and melds well in Hyde’s lineups.
Personally, I have been the most impressed with his maturity and comfort level at the plate. With such high expectations, it can be easy for rookies to let the pressure get to them, but Mountcastle has lived up to the moment so far.
It appears to me that Mountcastle is here to stay and will be a cornerstone to this franchise, alongside players like Austin Hays, Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, etc.
It’s been a while since the Orioles have had a hyped-up prospect debut since stars likes Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop have left town. Mountcastle’s call-up provided O’s fans with an exciting story line in a season that’s had highs and lows.
We’ve only seen a sample size thus far, but Mountcastle has more than lived up to the rookie hype. As the season progresses, we’ll be keeping our eyes on Mountcastle’s development, as we look forward to his future accomplishments in the majors.
What are your thoughts on Mountcastle so far? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!