Top prospect Mount­cas­tle could be next star in Bal­ti­more

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Kyle Franko kfranko@tren­to­nian.com @kj_franko on Twit­ter

TREN­TON » Ryan Mount­cas­tle has only taken in a few games at Cam­den Yards since the Ori­oles made him a first-round pick in 2015, but if he con­tin­ues on his cur­rent tra­jec­tory, he’ll be con­tribut­ing at the ma­jor­league level sooner rather than later.

Ranked as Bal­ti­more’s No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipe­line, Mount­cas­tle in the midst of an ex­cel­lent sea­son with Double-A Bowie, slash­ing .318/.367/.512 with eight homers, 38 RBIs and ca­reerbest .878 OPS in 58 games.

Mount­cas­tle, 21, at­trib­uted those num­bers to a more ma­ture ap­proach.

“I’d get maybe a lit­tle bit too low on my­self if I’d have a bad game or a lit­tle bit too high if I was good,” he said ear­lier this week when he was in Tren­ton to rep­re­sent the West in the Eastern League Al­lS­tar Game. “I feel good right now. I’m healthy and I feel good de­fen­sively and of­fen­sively.

“I can just flush it now (if I have a bad (at-bat). What­ever it is, what­ever hap­pens, I got to move on, and I know that now.”

Mount­cas­tle, though, has al­ways been an of­fen­sive threat. His bat is what got him drafted 36th over­all and he’s a ca­reer .291 hit­ter in 353 mi­nor league games.

The ques­tions about Mount­cas­tle are on the de­fen­sive side. Some scouts are crit­i­cal of his throw­ing arm and the Ori­oles switched his po­si­tion from short­stop to third base.

“It’s a lot quicker over at third,” Mount­cas­tle said. “The ball gets to you a lot faster. It’s a lot more foot­work ori­en­tated. Be­sides that it’s the same game, you have to field the ball and throw it over to first.”

He may even project at first base or left field in ma­jors, but for now he feels good about his progress at the hot cor­ner.

“Just keep throw­ing and keep play­ing my game,” Mount­cas­tle said. “I feel I’ve got­ten older, stronger, faster over the years and I feel good over there.”

The Ori­oles are the worst team in base­ball and fran­chise player Manny Machado is in his final days in or­ange and black. Bal­ti­more has fielded of­fers from at least eight con­tenders for Machado, who will be a free agent at the end of the year.

Pro­ject­ing Mount­cas­tle as a Machado-re­place­ment prob­a­bly isn’t fair to him, but a trend of calling up young prospects like the Na­tion­als did with Juan Soto (19 yeas old) or the Braves with Ron­ald Acuna (20 years old) could tempt the O’s to look at Mount­cas­tle be­fore the end of the sea­son.

Next he’ll rep­re­sent the Ori­oles at the Fu­tures Game on Sun­day in Wash­ing­ton.

“For them to choose me to be in the Fu­tures Game is a great honor,” Mount­cas­tle said. “I’m glad that I’m a part of it.”

Af­ter that he’ll keep ev­ery­thing in prospect.

“Just grow­ing up and be­ing around the game long enough you start to learn you can’t be too high or too low on yourself,” Mount­cas­tle said.

JOHN BLAINE — FOR THE TREN­TO­NIAN

Bowie third base­man Ryan Mount­cas­tle bats dur­ing the Eastern League All-Star Game at Arm & Ham­mer Park.

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