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Former Orioles Top Prospect Has Risen To Stardom

Ryan Mountcastle came up in the Baltimore Orioles system as a highly touted prospect. It took him a few years, but he has finally met his expectations. Selected in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Orioles, Mountcastle has been in the spotlight since day one. He raked throughout his time in the minors, amassing 70 homers over four seasons. During his debut MLB season of 2020, he hit .333 in over 100 at-bats. He followed that up with a solid 2021 and finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. It was mostly more of the same in 2022 and 2023, with Mountcastle posting a .729 OPS and a .779 OPS in each season, respectively. But in 2024, Mountcastle has found a new gear. So far, he has put up career highs in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. Ryan Mountcastle has risen to stardom for the Orioles, playing consistently well and delivering in clutch spots.

Simply put, Ryan Mountcastle has reached stardom and deserves a chance to represent the Orioles in the All-Star Game this season. He has been one of Baltimore’s unsung studs this year, along with third baseman Jordan Westburg.

Ryan Mountcastle Rising to Stardom for the Orioles

The Stats Behind Mountcastle’s Breakout

Ryan Mountcastle has made some noticeable improvements this season. First, his ability to hit breaking and off-speed pitches has drastically improved. Throughout 2023, Mountcastle hit under .260 against both breaking and off-speed pitches. However, he has raised his batting average to .275 against breaking pitches and .269 against off-speed.  Also, Mountcastle has drastically improved his ability to hit right-handed pitching. As a powerful right-hander, Mountcastle generally destroys left-handed pitching. But he had struggled to consistently hit well against right-handers until this season. He has raised his average against righties to .273 this season, up from .235 in 2023. All these improvements have caused Mountcastle’s overall average to sit at a career-high (excluding the shortened 2020 season) of .277.

The Change To Mountcastle’s Approach

There has been one noticeable change to Mountcastle’s at-bats this year. He is swinging at the first pitch just 36.3 percent of the time. That is by far the lowest of his career. Every year before 2024, that figure was north of 40%. This has resulted in a lower chase percentage, as Mountcastle is becoming more patient at the plate. His patience has led to him seeing more pitches in the zone than he ever has. That has resulted in a lot of hard contact, including 11 home runs. Overall, this change in patience has made Mountcastle into a new hitter.

Mountcastle Deserves To Represent the Orioles In Texas

The last Orioles first basemen to make an All-Star game was Chris Davis in 2013. Ryan Mountcastle may be the next. Mountcastle leads all American League first basemen in fWAR with 1.2. He also leads all AL first basemen in slugging percentage. Also, his WRC+ is 134, which is second in the AL at the position, narrowly behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who has a 135 WRC+. Mountcastle is also barely in second in the home run and batting average categories. Nearly every offensive stat has Mountcastle in the top three for first basemen, with multiple different guys rotating at the other spots. There is no doubt that Mountcastle is trending toward earning a spot in the Midsummer Classic. But there may even be a chance he starts. But that will come down to how he plays over the next few weeks.

The emergence of Ryan Mountcastle has been incredibly important for the Orioles. It has given manager Brandon Hyde a very reliable bat who can be played every day. Mountcastle deserves to be an All-Star, and one hot streak may even earn him a starting job.


Photo Credit: © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


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