Making sense of a shortened season sample with a rookie makes for a confusing projection. Ryan Mountcastle surged after joining the Orioles from the alternate site hitting .333/.386/.492 with 12 runs, five home runs and 23 RBI in 140 plate appearances over 35 contests. He owned a 7.9 walk percentage with a 21.4 strikeout rate, .159 isolated power and .377 weighted on-base average (wOBA).
Beneath the high average, there's some chinks in the armor. His 16.2 swinging strike percentage and 72.5 contact rate translate to proceed with caution if paying full retail for a high average repeating during a full season in 2021. Especially given the 42 O-Swing (outside the strike zone) percentage. If these trends continue, he needs to maximize all of his contact. Long story short, it's difficult to bank on.
Transitioning to Statcast, Mountcastle recorded 98 batted ball events with seven barrels (7.1 percent), an 87.4 MPH average exit velocity and 41.8 hard hit rate. Not bad, but if his power profile continues to trend up, he needs to increase his exit velocities. Delving into his expected statistics, there's more caution signs. His .266 expected batting average, .430 expected slugging and .328 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) all reside well below his actual numbers. Especially his 49 point differential in xwOBA versus wOBA.
Due to the limited nature of his sample, gleaning surface information helps but it's not predictive. Mountcastle produced an 81.1 percent zone swing rate with a 77.7 zone contact percent. He swung 58.8 percent of the time with a 29.7 whiff rate. Within his batted ball events, he produced a 43.9 ground ball percentage with a 21.4 fly ball percent and 25.5 line drive rate. Here's his spray and slice charts, which illustrate his propensity of hitting the ball up the middle:
Although three of his five home runs register as no-doubters (out of any MLB park), how many home runs he generates this year remains in question. In an effort to expand his sample size, here's his numbers from the top two levels of the minor leagues:
- Mountcastle Triple-A: 127 games, 553 plate appearances, 81 runs, 25 home runs, 83 RBI, two stolen bases; .295/.328/.471
- Mountcastle Double-A: 141 games, 587 plate appearances, 81 runs, 16 home runs, 74 RBI, two stolen bases; .276/.313/.437
When comparing these numbers to his 2020 results in the majors, it appears the power may translate but there's some pending regression in his batting average and on-base percentage.
Taking all of this into account, here's his projection sets from five different systems with some variance within them:
It's rare to see Steamer as the high projection system, but if he reaches these numbers, he's worth the risk in draft capital. Use spring as a barometer and plan on some migration to the mean if targeting Mountcastle for 2021, it may be a consolidation year of his skill set.
THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty
ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen
ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborsk