Another Orioles prospect is climbing up the ladder closer to the big leagues. MASN's Steve Melewski reported on Thursday afternoon that shortstop Ryan Mountcastle, who recently cracked the Baseball Prospectus Top 50, is getting promoted from High-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie immediately.
Orioles GM Dan Duquette told Melewski that along with the promotion of Mountcastle to Bowie, he will be shifting to third base. One long-standing question about Mountcastle has been whether he would be able to stick at the shortstop position, or even in the infield at all.
For now, it seems like the shortstop question has been answered in the negative. Of the third base transition, Duquette simply said, "We're going to see if his skills translate at third." Baseball prospect writers don't seem to think that's very likely either, but given a chance, perhaps Mountcastle will surprise them.
The Orioles drafted Mountcastle out of a Florida high school back in 2015, selecting him with the pick they received for losing Nelson Cruz in free agency. Mountcastle, 20, has been laying waste to Carolina League pitching this season while being one of the younger players in the league. Over 88 games, Mountcastle has batted .314/.343/.542 at the level, including 15 home runs.
When the Orioles drafted Mountcastle, there was some belief that he would be developing power down the road. This year seems to be when it's showing up. At Delmarva last season, Mountcastle finished with 28 doubles and 10 home runs in 118 games. While with Frederick, Mountcastle delivered 35 doubles in addition to the 15 homers in 30 fewer games. That's good stuff.
Although Mountcastle doesn't walk very much, just 3.7% of his plate appearances this season, he also has a very low strikeout rate of just 16%. Every Orioles player with more than 100 PA has a higher rate this season. Making a lot of contact is a skill in and of itself.
It's exciting any time a young player is performing so well that he practically forces a midseason promotion. This will give Mountcastle about six weeks time to show what he can do at the Double-A level for the remainder of the minor league season.
If his performance at Double-A ends up looking like what he was doing for Frederick, that will be very exciting, indeed. If the transition to third base sticks, even better for the franchise heading forward.