As he awaits the start of a season that could see him make his major league debut, Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle has been working out with other pro players in Florida. Like all of us, he’s waiting to hear official word about the 2020 season.
In a recent video interview with the 23-year-old Mountcastle, we discussed a variety of topics. Everything from fitting in within the O’s clubhouse as a young player to his defense to playing at all levels on the O’s farm.
The 2019 season was a banner one for the player the O’s drafted out of a Florida high school No. 36 overall in 2015. For Triple-A Norfolk, Mountcastle his .312/.344/.527 with 35 doubles, a triple, 25 homers, 83 RBIs and an OPS of .871. He was both the International League MVP and the Orioles minor league Player of the Year, winning the Brooks Robinson Award.
On the O’s farm, he started his career at the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and has also played at short season Single-A Aberdeen, Single-A Delmarva, Single-A Frederick, Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. He’s made all the stops.
Over 524 games and 2,078 career at-bats, Mountcastle has 70 homers and an OPS of .799. That is better that Manny Machado’s .791 mark when he was on the O’s farm.
“Before I got drafted, I didn’t know there were so many levels in the minor leagues,” Mountcastle said of navigating every stop from the GCL through Norfolk. “To make it all the way to Triple-A, it’s been a fun ride. Met some cool guys and had some fun playing and really enjoyed it for sure.
“When you are just out of high school, you are still trying to learn the game. You don’t know everything about the game and some little small details about it. As opposed to (playing at) Triple-A, it’s more about getting your work in. You’ve gone through the whole minor leagues and you know what to expect from pro ball.”
At the end of each of the last five seasons, Mountcastle has been ranked as the O’s No. 7 prospect or higher. He was the club’s No. 2 prospect at the end of the 2018 season and is No. 5 now.
He said his offense and hitting style have grown and developed over those seasons on the farm.
“Yeah, I feel like I’ve evolved in a lot of ways,” he said. “My swing isn’t the exact same as it was my rookie year out of high school. I made a few adjustments that I thought would help my game and help my power numbers. As a corner infielder, I had to put up pretty good power numbers. So I evolved my swing into something I like and that is comfortable for me to put up numbers.”
When Mountcastle was added to the O’s 40-man roster last November, I interviewed Gary Kendall, who managed him at both Bowie and Norfolk. Here is that story, which included this Kendall quote:
“He’s very confident in what he does and his approach. But he’s a very humble young man that was raised really, really well. I just saw tremendous growth in him this year. How he handled everything, hit in the middle of the lineup, what kind of teammate he was. Just a real special kid that had a real special year.”
I asked Mountcastle about Kendall calling him a good teammate. What did that mean to him?
“Just a guy that is easy to talk to. A guy that is easy going and always trying to make the team better and always trying to help others out and make them better,” he said.
With his first big league game surely approaching if there is a 2020 season, it was a good time to have a long-form video interview with Mountcastle.