Ryan Mountcastle, y’all! It’s happening!
The 23-year-old, defending International League MVP, ranked the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, got his long-awaited promotion to the big leagues today, and not a moment too soon. (Arguably, it’s a few weeks too late.) The Orioles are in the midst of a freefall, dropping five straight games at home to bad teams to fall under .500 and out of a wild card spot. Their pitching, defense, and offense have all struggled, and while Mountcastle can’t fix the first one and probably won’t help much with the second, he certainly has the potential to bolster the third.
During his five-year minor league career since the O’s drafted him in 2015, Mountcastle has amassed a .295/.328/.471 batting line with 70 home runs and 274 RBIs in 524 games while being a few years young for each level. Last year at Triple-A Norfolk he cranked 25 homers and 83 RBIs while posting an .871 OPS. His bat will play in the bigs — as long as his inability to draw a walk (just 101 free passes in 2,217 minor league plate appearances) doesn’t prove his fatal weakness.
That lack of plate discipline, as well as Mountcastle’s need to learn a new position (left field), partly led to the Orioles’ decision to hold him at the Bowie alternate site instead of putting him on the Opening Day roster. It also doesn’t hurt that the O’s gained an extra year of team control over Mountcastle by keeping him out of the majors until now.
So here he is, hoping to inject some life into the moribund Birds (moriBirds?). While Mountcastle isn’t quite the level of prospect as some other big names recently promoted to the majors in recent days (including the Tigers’ Casey Mize, the Braves’ Christian Pache, the Giants’ Joey Bart, and the Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson, all of whom are top-20 MLB prospects on MLB Pipeline), his arrival nonetheless is an exciting day for Orioles fans. Adding him to the lineup while subtracting Chris Davis — who was placed on the injured list today with “left knee patellar tendinitis,” wink wink — could get the O’s offense back in the swing of things.
Mountcastle is batting sixth as the left fielder in his debut tonight. Good luck, kid!
2B Hanser Alberto
RF Anthony Santander
1B Renato Nunez
DH Pedro Severino
3B Rio Ruiz
LF Ryan Mountcastle
C Chance Sisco
SS Pat Valaika
CF Cedric Mullins
LHP John Means