It’s Ryan Mountcastle time!
The Orioles are bringing up the hitting prospect many fans have been hoping to see since the start of the season, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko. Perhaps Mountcastle has made real strides with something or other at the alternate training site in Bowie and that’s why they’re bringing him up now, or perhaps he’s in the flood of prospects who’ve joined MLB rosters across the league this week because this will most likely keep those players from later earning “Super Two” arbitration status.
The idea of Mountcastle has been exciting for a while since he represents possible upside for an O’s team that’s overachieved up to this point. Especially now that the team has hit a skid, in part because they’ve scored two or fewer runs in three of these five straight losses, it’s like, just get this guy up here.
Chris Davis is batting .122/.173/.184, somehow even worse than anyone who predicted a poor outcome for him in 2020 could have expected. Orioles left fielders are better than that, batting a combined .213/.340/.338, and there’s not been dazzling defense to at least offset that hitting.
When the O’s officially announced the move on Friday afternoon, the corresponding roster move is that Davis has been placed on the 10-day injured list. Davis’s injury, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Nathan Ruiz, is left knee patellar tendinitis. Presumably, this sets up Mountcastle to be more of a first baseman/designated hitter than a left fielder, but we’ll see how the lineups end up actually looking.
Mountcastle, 23, was selected by the Orioles at #36 overall in the 2015 draft when he was coming out of high school. This was a compensation pick for Nelson Cruz signing with Seattle. At the time he was drafted, Mountcastle was a shortstop, though he eventually shifted to third base before Mike Elias and company started sticking him in left field.
After a 2017 season where Mountcastle, then just 20 years old, batted a combined .287/.312/.489 between Frederick and Bowie, his prospect status was recognized on assorted top 100 lists, typically in the 76-100 range. Places that believe in his ability to be something other than a DH, or who really believe in his bat, put him a bit higher. Places that are more skeptical as he keeps falling down the defensive ladder have had him lower, and he’d dropped out of the Baseball America top 100 entirely before 2020.
Mountcastle’s 2019 performance at Triple-A, where he batted .312/.344/.527 for the season, provided ammunition for both his boosters and his detractors. It’s great that he batted over .300 and slugged over .500 as a 22-year-old experiencing the level of competition for the first time. Hitting 25 home runs in 125 games is good too.
That was also with juiced MLB balls being down at Triple-A last year, and Mountcastle was only playing first base and left field, meaning he would be in a position with higher expectations for his bat. And he only walked 24 times in 553 plate appearances. That’s a walk rate of only 4.3%. A player can succeed in MLB like that, but most players who draw walks so sporadically do not succeed.
I’m glad to see him up here because I think it is probably the case that he had learned everything he was going to learn in the minors and now it’s time to see if he can sink or swim at the MLB level. This is especially true since there are no organized minor league games in 2020. Put him to the test against big league pitching and see what he does. The big league coaching staff can work with him.
Hopefully the result of that in the long run is that Mountcastle is part of the next good Orioles team. If things work out the other way and he’s not, then that’s useful information for the rebuild project as well, because they can know who not to consider in hypothetical future plans. They weren’t going to find out much by letting him keep kicking around in Bowie.
I hope the Orioles have a plan to use him regularly and that this doesn’t end up being more of a spectator call-up like when pitching prospect Keegan Akin joined the roster and just sat in the bullpen unused for nearly a week.
This article has been updated to reflect the official announcement of the Ryan Mountcastle roster move.
What’s your hype level for Ryan Mountcastle getting called up?
This poll is closed
Already dreaming of the Cooperstown speech
This guy is going to be a good Oriole
I’m sure he’s going to suck