Ryan Mountcastle: Cornerstone of O’s future

In 2015, the Baltimore Orioles would utilize their first-round pick in the MLB Draft to pick up a shortstop by the name of Ryan Mountcastle.

The young 18-year-old Mountcastle would sign a $1.3 million deal and forgo his commitment to play for the University of Central Florida to start his professional career.

Taking the Gulf Coast League by storm, Mountcastle would hit .313 across 43 games, hitting three home runs and driving in 14 RBIs. The Orioles figured it was worth seeing how strong Mountcastle was and promoted him to Low-A Aberdeen for the final 10 games of the season.

This would lead to Mountcastle starting the following season in Single-A Delmarva, where he would go on to hit .281 with 10 long balls and 51 RBIs through 115 games and would predominantly play shortstop.

As Mountcastle moved up the ranks, it was then the Orioles started moving him to third base and even some left field. The ability to play other positions would allow Mountcastle an easier acceleration up the ladder to the big leagues.

By 2019, Mountcastle would play full-time in Triple-A Norfolk. Playing in 127 games, he would play third base (nine games), left field (26 games), first base (84 games) and designated hitter (nine games).

Across the season, the Orioles’ No. 3 prospect would slash .312/.344/.527, hitting 25 home runs and collecting 83 RBIs. This would propel Mountcastle to the International League MVP Award.

The slugging righty would be added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster prior to the 2020 season. After spending about a month at the team’s alternate site due to COVID, it was on August 21, 2020, when Mountcastle would be added to the big league roster and make his major league debut.

Over the remaining part of the season, Mountcastle would slash .333/.386/.492 across 35 games, hitting five home runs and driving in 23 runs. This would earn Mountcastle a starting role in 2021, when he would lead major league rookies in home runs with 33, an Orioles’ rookie record.

Mountcastle followed his first full-season campaign by hitting 22 home runs while setting career-highs in games played (145), total hits (139), doubles (28) and walks (43). Through his first two full seasons in the majors, he has slashed .253/.307/.455 and lowered his strikeout totals and increased his walks.

When it comes to defense, Mountcastle has a .996 fielding percentage at first base. Last season, there was a drastic improvement in his fielding, some even feeling that he might have not been given enough credit for his defensive play.

In 2022, Mountcastle’s defensive runs saved (+1) and outs above average (+3) would be on the positive side for the first time. His OAA would be third best in baseball and also accounted for a seven-point swing from the previous year.

For many, the surface of Mountcastle’s stats would make some question his value to a team loading up on talent. When you start to look deeper, Mountcastle actually had a stronger year than many believe.

According to metrics, Mountcastle’s expected slugging percentage would have been .509, tying him for seventh in the AL. This value would have placed him ahead of Vlad Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Tucker and Carlos Correa.

Mountcastle was also in the top four percent in expected slugging, top six percent in barrel percentage, top nine percent in expected batting average and top 12 percent in exit velocity. The interesting thing about his 2022 season is that his exit velocity went from 89.1 to 91.3 while his hard hit percentage went from 39.7 to 46.8.

These stats show metrically that Mountcastle had a monster year but just a lot of bad luck in the final eye stats. They actually show that Mountcastle improved from his rookie season overall.

Many still forget that he is only 25 years old and is still a couple of years from his prime. On top of that, he is under team control for another three years.

The probability is that Mountcastle only gets better. The underlying stats show that we should see a return to form from Mountcastle’s rookie season and the promise that the athlete has always displayed.

To suggest Mountcastle be moved would only provide a gapping whole not only at first base but in the middle of the lineup. He should be part of the Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Grayson Rodriguez cornerstones.

Mountcastle will be one of the top first basemen in the league moving forward. With a change of fortunes, the eye test will catch up to the metrics.

What do you think of Mountcastle’s career so far? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter – @SRJHeckman

3 thoughts on “Ryan Mountcastle: Cornerstone of O’s future

    1. Haha I used to be the same way but I’ve learned that it helps show a little more depth when it comes to offense and defense. I do agree that Mountcastle has a ton of potential, plus he’s only 25. Mateo I agree has a ton upside as well. He should man the position at least this year and next before talk of Jackson Holliday fills the airwaves


  1. Said it just the other day, I can’t understand why so many fans think of Mountcastle as trade bait.
    I think Mr. Heckman is spot on with this article. He alluded to many thinking Mountcastles numbers were lacking a bit. A sophmore slump maybe? Pshaw….A slight dip maybe … a slump … I think not. Whatever, Heckman points out a more than a few detailed examples of how Mountcastle swings a superior bat … and yes …I agree his numbers WILL go up.
    This guy is going to be a perennial allstar before all is said and done. I’d all him a keeper.

    Liked by 1 person

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