By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
Landing at #3 on our Pre-season Top 15 is third baseman Ryan Mountcastle. The 20 year-old Mountcastle was the Baltimore Orioles second 1st round draft pick (36th overall, compensation for losing Nelson Cruz) in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Mountcastle completed a successful 2017 season that saw him play at three levels: Class-A High, Class-AA and the Arizona Fall League. Starting the season in Frederick, he slashed .314/ .343/ .542 with 15 home runs and 47 RBI. Mountcastle was promoted to Bowie in late July and slowed down some, producing a .222/ .239/ .366 slash line with 3 home runs and 15 RBI. He finished 2017 playing for the Salt River Rafters with a .244/ .287/ .402 slash line with 3 home runs and 14 RBI.
The accolades rolled in for Mountcastle as a result of his play in 2017. He was honored as a Mid-Season All-Star, a Post-Season All-Star and as Baseball America’s All-Star for his play in Frederick and was named a Rising Star for his play in the AFL. MiLB.com has also named Mountcastle an Orioles organizational All-Star.
All of this has led to an invite to the Major League camp for this year’s Spring Training where Mountcastle will provide the coaching staff with a better picture of his skill set.
The major question facing him is where will he play defensively. Mountcastle was drafted as a short stop and would prefer to play that position but was moved to third base once promoted to Bowie. Defensively he produced a .954 fielding percentage with 13 errors at short for Frederick and a .937 fielding percentage with 6 errors at third for Bowie.
While not flashy at third, Mountcastle certainly has been serviceable there. There is a feeling among some scouts that he would be better suited as a left fielder. Spring Training may bring more clarity to the issue. Regardless of which glove he carries onto the field, the young man can hit.
Mountcastle has steadily moved up the prospect list since being drafted and has earned our #3 spot; he also ended 2017 as the #3 Orioles’ prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list (the 2018 list will be released on Feb. 19th).
Barring any unforeseen events, I see Mountcastle starting 2018 in Bowie with a promotion to Norkolk (Class-AAA) a distinct possibility. I also would not rule out seeing him play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2019; his star is that bright.
Be sure to stay tuned as we continue to unveil our Preseason Top 15 Prospects list and check out those that have been revealed thus far on our Top 15 Prospects page!