Ryan Mountcastle
Ryan Mountcastle
23-Year-Old First Baseman1B
Baltimore Orioles
2020 Fantasy Outlook
Mountcastle is a prime example of why team context matters when valuing prospects for dynasty leagues. On any contending team or National League team with solid depth, he wouldn't be assured an audition as a regular. However, Baltimore gave Dwight Smith (-0.8 fWAR) almost 400 plate appearances last year, so Mountcastle should be given regular playing time for several years despite his obvious deficiencies. He is a below-average defender in left field, but that won't stop the O's from giving him time there while also giving him starts as the designated hitter. With a potentially plus hit tool and 4.3 BB% at Triple-A, Mountcastle is much more valuable in AVG leagues than OBP leagues. He could be a 25-homer threat, thanks in part to his home park, but won't be a threat on the bases. It's not an exciting fantasy profile, but he could spend most of 2020 hitting in the top half of the big-league lineup. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year contract with the Orioles in March of 2020.
Sent to Triple-A
1BBaltimore Orioles  AAA
March 19, 2020
Mountcastle was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, Dan Connolly of The Athletic reports.
Mountcastle is an interesting prospect, though he didn't appear likely to break with the team entering camp, and his uninspiring .235/.235/.412 slash line in 34 spring plate appearances didn't exactly help his case. After hitting .312/.344/.527 with 25 homers in 127 games for Norfolk last season, however, he doesn't have a whole lot left to prove in the minors.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Mountcastle flopped in a 39-game run at Double-A to close 2017, but mastered the level in a return trip. Among qualified Eastern League hitters under 22, only Ke'Bryan Hayes and Brendan Rodgers topped Mountcastle's 121 wRC+. If he were a quality defensive third baseman, the profile would be straightforward, as he should hit enough to profile at the hot corner. Unfortunately, he will likely have to move to left field or DH, which means his bat (potentially plus hit tool with above-average power) needs to max out. Mountcastle's 6.1 BB% was the eighth-worst mark in the Eastern League, but he makes contact at a high clip (18.5 K%) and uses the whole field. A reasonable outcome would be a .280 hitter who hits 20-25 home runs. Fantasy managers would take that production, but if it comes with a low walk rate and below-average defense, most big-league teams would be unsatisfied. Fortunately, the Orioles are not most big-league teams.
Mountcastle had more home runs (18) than walks (17) in 2017, but was still able to break out as a legitimate fantasy prospect thanks to his innate bat-to-ball ability. He led the Carolina League with a .314 average while ranking fifth in home runs (15) and eighth in strikeout rate (16.1 percent), all while being one of the 10 youngest hitters in the league and playing just 88 games prior to a promotion to Double-A. The breakout party came to a screeching halt in the Eastern League, as his walk rate dropped to 1.9 percent, he became much more pull happy (54.8 percent), and simply put too many pitcher's pitches in play. He will head back to Double-A for his age-21 season, with plenty of time to make adjustments at the plate. Evaluators still see a hitter with the potential to flirt with .300 and provide 20-plus homer pop. Unfortunately, he is a below-average runner and doesn't have the arm for shortstop or third base, so left field makes the most sense long term.
Mountcastle was viewed by many as a reach at No. 36 overall in the 2015 first-year player draft, but if he puts it all together, he could be a major league regular at shortstop in three or four years. Standing 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Mountcastle was touted for his raw power coming out of high school, but that raw power did not translate during his first calendar year in professional ball. He slugged just .393 between rookie ball and Low-A Aberdeen in 2015 and managed one home run over the first two months of 2016. Finally, Mountcastle began to put the ball over the fence in June and went on to hit nine homers over the final three months of his age-19 season. He'll need to develop a keener eye and make more consistent contact to have success at the upper levels, and speed is not a part of the package. Still, Mountcastle deserves to be monitored by those in long-term keeper leagues.
The Orioles used a 2015 compensatory pick on Mountcastle. They may have reached a bit in order to sign him under slot, though Mountcastle was a late blooming prospect whose reputation grew only over the year before he was drafted. Mountcastle is widely regarded to possess superior bat speed and profiles with above-average power. As with most players out of high school, Mountcastle's power may not be present, but he is expected to add more muscle over the next few seasons. It will not be surprising to see him retain a higher than average BABIP the way the ball jumps off his bat. Mountcastle started his professional career as a shortstop, but his defense probably will not be enough to stay put and he could move to third base or a corner outfield spot. He posted respectable numbers in Rookie League, earning a 10-game cameo in short-season ball. The Orioles are high on Mountcastle and he is advanced enough to be able to begin the 2016 season at Low-A.
More Fantasy News
Lackluster output in spring play
1BBaltimore Orioles  AAA
March 18, 2020
Mountcastle hit .235/.235/.412 with one home run and nine strikeouts over 34 plate appearances this spring.
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Evaluated at first base, outfield
1BBaltimore Orioles  AAA
February 19, 2020
Mountcastle has been primarily been working out at first base in the Orioles' early full-squad workouts, though manager Brandon Hyde said he plans to expose the 23-year-old to the outfield as well, Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports.
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Added to 40-man roster
1BBaltimore Orioles  AAA
November 20, 2019
Mountcastle was added to the Orioles' 40-man roster Wednesday.
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Won't debut in 2019
1BBaltimore Orioles  AAA
September 2, 2019
Mountcastle will not be promoted to the majors this season, Nathan Ruiz of The Baltimore Sun reports.
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Enjoying hot run at Triple-A
1BBaltimore Orioles  AAA
July 26, 2019
Mountcastle went 2-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBI in Triple-A Norfolk's 9-7 win over Rochester on Thursday.
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