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Orioles prospect season in review: Ryan Mountcastle

He’s no Manny Machado, but the young Floridian excelled in his first try at full season ball...

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I mean, sure Ryan Mountcastle is ostensibly a shortstop, a teenager drafted out of Florida, but, really any Machado comparisons are superficial at best. While Mountcastle acquitted himself well in his age 19 season as a member of the Delmarva Shorebirds, Manny Machado was a key component in the Orioles 2012 playoff push by the end of his age 19 season. I’ll stop now.

To refresh your memory, Mountcastle was selected 36th in the first round of the 2015 draft. He was given $1.3 million to sign which was $400,000 under slot and in signing, reneged on a commitment to play ball at Central Florida. Pre-draft, he had been ranked the 122nd best prospect in the nation by Baseball America.

Of course, the 2016 performance of Mountcastle was nothing to sneeze at. He slashed .281/.319/.426 and earned South Atlantic League Player of the Week honors in June. Nearly a third of Mountcastle’s hits went for extra bases (42 of 128), a healthy bump from his rookie year (11 of 58). Perhaps demonstrating an improved understanding of the professional game, Mountcastle’s strikeout and walk rates improved slightly over 2015.

Mountcastle’s defense is a work in progress. He’s a big kid and not exactly fleet of foot (but no clod, either), so a move to third base at some point has been considered a distinct possibility. We may accept the notion that fielding percentage isn’t the best metric to assess defensive performance, but .944 isn’t too good.

Don’t expect to see Mountcastle in Baltimore any time soon. Though he was young for the Sally league and a promotion to Frederick would seem to be in order for 2017, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire. His wRC+ of 112 was fourth among 19 year olds in the Sally League, but there was pretty clear separation between the top three and Mountcastle. This is fine, by the way.

The major outlets that generate prospect lists seemed mostly in agreement on naming Mountcastle a top 10 preseason prospect in the Orioles organization. This past season shouldn’t hurt that.