Guys who can hit tend to make their way to the big leagues, and that's exactly what Mountcastle has done ever since the Orioles took him out of the Florida high school ranks at the very end of the first round of the 2015 Draft. He mashed his way to Double-A at age 20 in 2017, made the Futures Game in 2018 and then took home MVP honors in the Triple-A International League in 2019 while also earning the Orioles' Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award. All of those accomplishments led to a spot on the 40-man roster following the 2019 season.
Mountcastle has shown an innate ability to barrel up baseballs at every level in his climb up the organizational ladder. He can drive the ball to all fields and he started to tap into his raw power more consistently in 2019, with career highs in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. He has the chance to hit for both average and power, though he does need to work on his plate discipline in order to have continued success at the big league level, with some concerned that his walk rate went down and his strikeout rate went up last season.
There are more questions about where Mountcastle will play defensively. Drafted as a shortstop, he moved to third in 2017 and played there exclusively in 2018. With a below-average arm and limited range, he moved to first in 2019 then got some work in left field. He's just about ready to contribute offensively, so the Orioles might move him around some just to find ways of getting Mountcastle's bat into the big league lineup.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 40 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55
Mountcastle was revered by scouts for his potential with the bat as a Florida high schooler before the Orioles nabbed him with the second of their two first-round picks in 2015. That hitting ability has helped him move quickly through the Minors despite concerns about his defense, as Mountcastle raked his way up to Double-A at age 20 in '17. And even though the start of Mountcastle's '18 campaign was delayed due to a fractured right wrist suffered during Spring Training, he still put up strong numbers in the Eastern League and represented the Orioles at the Futures Game in July.
Mountcastle just knows how to impact the baseball. He has a quick bat and does an outstanding job of keeping his hands inside the ball to create extension through the zone and generate backspin carry to all fields. It gives him a chance to be at least an above-average hitter with similar power potential, especially if he can further refine his approach.
While the move up to Double-A brought a position change from shortstop to third base for Mountcastle, his below-average arm strength and fringy range made him unlikely to stay there long term. Sure enough, the Orioles began working him in at first base during Spring Training before deploying him primarily at the position at the outset of 2019. He's always had good hands on the left side of the infield that should serve him well as a first baseman, and he certainly has the hitting ability and power to profile there at the highest level .
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55
The Orioles knew they were getting a potentially special hitter when they selected Mountcastle with their second of two first round picks in 2015. He's proved to be that early in his career, showing a combination of pure hitting ability and power that earned him a promotion to Double-A at age 20 in 2017 before a successful turn in the Arizona Fall League. Mountcastle's 2018 debut was delayed by a fractured right hand.
Mountcastle boasts a quick bat and does an outstanding job of keeping his hands inside the ball so as to create extension through the zone and generate backspin to all fields. An advanced approach and good pitch recognition further fuel Mountcastle's projection as an above-average hitter, and scouts are equally high on his power potential after he piled up 67 extra-base hits, including 18 home runs and a Minor League-best 48 doubles, in his second full season.
The move up to Double-A brought a position change for Mountcastle as the Orioles shifted from shortstop to third base. He showed in the AFL that his below-average arm strength plays better at the hot corner than it did at short, though some scouts believe he'll ultimately end up further down the defensive spectrum. Regardless of his position, it will be Mountcastle's bat that helps him carve out a career as an impactful regular.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 40 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
After taking pitchers with their first pick in four straight Drafts, the Orioles' approach shifted in 2015 as they selected college outfielder D.J. Stewart (No. 25 overall) and Mountcastle (No. 36) at the back end of the first round. It hasn't taken the latter long to establish himself as the gem of that Orioles Draft class, as he's already reached Double-A at age 20 in his second full season after raking his way through the South Atlantic and Carolina leagues.
Mountcastle is a pure right-handed hitter. His loose swing can get too one-dimensional at times, leading to some swing-and-miss, but he does a good job of adjusting his hands and barrel so as to make consistent contact, all the while demonstrating feel for using the whole field. His bat speed is plus and leads to a lot of hard contact, and he's shown the ability to consistently tap into his above-average raw power against advanced pitching. He's a good athlete with average speed that aids him on both sides of the ball.
The Orioles remain steadfast in their development of Mountcastle as a shortstop, although few in the industry believe he can remain there on account of his well-below-average arm, with left field representing his likely long-term home. Regardless, Mountcastle has proved capable of offsetting those defensive concerns with his impressive combination of hitting ability and power.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
An Orlando area high school infielder who played not far from 2015 top high school prospect Brendan Rodgers, Mountcastle showed the Orioles enough for them to think he was worthy of being taken with the last pick of the first round. After signing for below slot value at $1.3 million, Mountcastle played well enough in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to earn a late-season promotion to Class A Short Season Auburn, and then began his first full professional season at Class A Delmarva.
Mountcastle stands out most for his hitting ability. A right-handed hitter, he has a loose swing that can get too one-dimensional at times, leading to some swing-and-miss, but he does a good job of making adjustments to make consistent contact and already demonstrates feel for using the whole field. His bat speed generates impressive exit velocity when he barrels the ball, and scouts believe his above-average raw power eventually will translate to average pop in games.
Tall and athletic, Mountcastle has average speed that aids him on both sides of the ball. The Orioles intend to develop him as a shortstop, and he spent most of his pro debut at the position. However, with limited range and below-average arm strength, some scouts believe he'll ultimately end up in the outfield.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
An Orlando area high school infielder who played not far from 2015 top high school prospect Brendan Rodgers, Mountcastle showed the Orioles enough for them to think he was worthy of being taken with the last pick of the first round. He signed for $1.3 million, below pick value , and debuted in the Gulf Coast League.
Mountcastle stands out most for his hitting ability. His tremendous bat speed leads to elite exit velocity when he squares balls up, giving him above-average power. He has a loose swing and does a good job of making adjustments to make consistent contact.
Defensively, Mountcastle isn't as advanced. A shortstop in high school, he saw plenty of action at third base on the showcase circuit. While he played a good amount of shortstop during his pro debut, most feel he'll likely either end up at third base or in the outfield at the next level.