Orioles In No Rush To Move Ryan Mountcastle Off Shortstop

Ryan Mountcastle (Photo by Rodger Wood)

The Orioles always suspected that Ryan Mountcastle’s bat would play as a professional. They’re just not sold on where he’s going to play in the field.

Baltimore drafted Mountcastle as a shortstop in the first round in 2015 out of Hagerty High in Oviedo, Fla., and he remains at the position. There are questions surrounding his arm strength and whether he should move to first base or left field, but the Orioles are in no rush.

They’re going to work on the 20-year-old’s deficiencies and give him every opportunity to succeed at shortstop.
In the meantime, Mountcastle continues to live up to his offensive reputation. Through 54 games he hit .332/.361/.595 with 12 home runs at high Class A Frederick. He amassed 20 doubles and 38 RBIs in 220 at-bats.

“He’s doing great,” farm director Brian Graham said. “He’s a young player at a high level. He’s a guy with a good understanding of how to hit—everything from his approach to hitting, to swing mechanics, pitch selection, to driving the ball.”

Last year, Mountcastle hit 10 home runs in 115 games at low Class A Delmarva. He launched three for Frederick in a May 26 game, two nights after outfielder Austin Hays did the same.

Mountcastle led the Carolina League with 33 extra-base hits. His pitch-recognition skills are advanced for his age.

“It is really good for a young player,” Graham said. “For a young guy to have his pitch recognition and understanding of the strike zone, it’s really impressive. He’s just learning from experience facing good competition. He’s shown the ability to make adjustments.”

Time will tell whether the next adjustment is hitting in Double-A or leaving shortstop.

“I’ll leave that in their hands,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’ll leave that in his hands.”

— Roch Kubatko covers the Orioles for MASNSports.com

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