By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
Just as we did after the conclusion of the 2016 season, the writers here at Baby Birdland, as well as our primary photo supplier Patrick Cavey, all submitted a Top 15 list and we averaged those lists together to get our all encompassing Baltimore Orioles Top 15 Prospects list. Continuing on with our in-depth look at each of the Top 15 Orioles’ prospects, we have reached #2, shortstop Ryan Mountcastle.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Climbing up to number two on our updated Top 15 Prospects list is Bowie Baysox third baseman, Ryan Mountcastle.
Going into the 2017 season, Ryan Mountcastle was viewed by many outside the Orioles’ organization as a mediocre prospect. Starting the season in High-A Frederick, Mountcastle was penciled in as the starting shortstop for the Keys, despite most scouts projecting him as third baseman or left fielder at the major league level.
Then, the first half of the Carolina League got underway.
Mountcastle appeared in 88 games for the Keys, hitting .314 with 15 home runs and 47 runs batted in en route to an all-star appearances for the former first round pick of the Orioles. The production earned Ryan a promotion to the Bowie Baysox on July 20th.
Despite leaving the Carolina League two weeks ago (as of August 2), Mountcastle still leads the league in total bases, doubles, batting average, OPS, and slugging percentage.
With his promotion to Bowie, Mountcastle has been forced to switch from shortstop to third base while adjusting to elite minor league pitching at the Double A level. In 11 games so far (as of August 2), Mountcastle is 7-42 (.167) at the plate with no home runs, six runs batted in, one walk and ten strikeouts.
No need to worry about the slow start, though, fans. Four of Ryan’s seven hits have been doubles, which means he is successfully finding the gaps. His contact rate at Bowie is at 76%, only slightly down from his 83% in Frederick this season. "These guys are a lot better. There's better control of all their pitches. They're not scared to throw certain pitches in certain counts. It's going to take a little while to get used to, but at the end of the day, it's still baseball." said Mountcastle in an interview Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun back on July 28th. I guarantee you, the hits will come.
As for the glove, Ryan has fielded 28 balls, three of which resulted in an error (.865%). Again, no need for alarm. Bowie manager, Gary Kendall seems pleased with Mountcastle’s production and play up to this point. Keep in mind, Ryan is just 20 years old and can continue to learn and grow in the minor leagues for another full year or two, especially after the recent acquisition of utility man, Tim Beckham.
Having watched Ryan Mountcastle on numerous occasions, I can confidently say that he has all the makings of a future major leaguer with the Baltimore Orioles. His ability to square up on a pitch and get his bat head through the zone is at an elite level. With some work on his approach (212/49 career K/BB ratio) Mountcastle will find the big league lineup in whatever position is necessary.
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