Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Get To Know The Baby Birds: Ryan Mountcastle

February 13, 2019 - 9:05 pm

By Austin Medina  

At just 21 years old, Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle will look to compete and make the Opening Day roster. We may not see him at the beginning of the year, but it would not be surprising if we see him at some point this year in the big leagues. 

The Orioles don’t seem to be making the playoffs anytime soon, so evaluating their farm is atop the priorities. They invited 18 non-roster players to spring training. Mountcastle currently ranks 2nd within the Orioles farm system, behind outfielder Yusniel Diaz

Baltimore drafted Mountcastle with the 36th pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. They received the compensatory pick after former Oriole Nelson Cruz signed a four-year contract with the Seattle Mariners in 2014.

Originally a shortstop, Mountcastle had issues committing errors. When he earned a promotion to Bowie (Double-A) at age 20, Mountcastle moved to third base to find a new fit and showed much greater promise defensively. Unlike Diaz, Mountcastle will have to showcase whether he will be a third baseman moving forward or perhaps move to a corner-outfield position.

It is difficult to justify players moving up to the big leagues from Double-A, but the hitting ability of Mountcastle gives him a chance.

Mountcastle has shown an ability to recognize pitches and has improved on his power, racking up 36 extra base hits including 13 homeruns. In his first full season with Bowie, he batted .297 along with 59 RBI.

The issue becomes where Mountcastle could fit on the roster. With players such as Renato Nunez and Jonathan Villar, spots will come at a high premium.

At shortstop, the O’s may go with defensive specialist Richie Martin. Mountcastle’s hitting has been much more productive than Martin, but how much will solely hitting be valued with his inability to play the position? 

It may be for the best that Mountcastle develops more at Triple-A. Ideally, he can get more defensive reps at third base as well as expand his flexibility. There is always room for utility players at the big league level and he could serve this role until landing a starting job.