It should be easy for the Baltimore Orioles to find a way to play Ryan Mountcastle in 2020. Instead, they appear clueless when it comes to the young hitter.
In theory, Ryan Mountcastle should have already made his debut with the Baltimore Orioles. He has nothing left to prove with the bat at the minor league level, producing an excellent .312/.344/.527 batting line in AAA, belting 25 homers and 35 doubles in his 553 plate appearances. The expectation was that he would debut with the Orioles in 2019, especially considering a lack of talent on the major league roster.
Instead, Mountcastle remained in AAA all season, not even warranting a September callup. But surely he would reach the majors in 2020, especially considering the short season and a lack of a minor league campaign. While the initial plan involved sending him to the minors, he could be of use in the lineup.
Yet, that does not seem to be a given. Mountcastle is assured of being a part of the Orioles 60 man roster and the taxi squad, but that does not mean he will debut this season, despite those holes on the roster.
There is a path to playing time. Trey Mancini had a malignant tumor removed from his colon prior to spring training being shut down, opening some playing time at first. Chris Davis is better suited to be a designated hitter, if his bat can break out of its multi-year slumber. Renato Nunez has been in the lineup by necessity, but seems better suited to be a depth option.
Service time is certainly an issue. The Orioles do not want to waste a year of Mountcastle’s service time in what will be a lost year and a shortened season. But that will no longer be a concern after seven days when the season actually begins. When the calendar flips to August, Mountcastle should be on the major league roster, as Baltimore will have an extra year of control.
Yet, the problem remains that the Orioles simply do not know what to do with him. There is nothing else for Mountcastle to do in the minors, as he has displayed the power they would want to see. Defensive questions remain for Mountcastle, but Davis has hardly been useful defensively in his career. It would make sense to see what the prospect can do, especially as the Orioles will not be going anywhere this year.
But these are the Baltimore Orioles, and logic does not apply. If it did, Ryan Mountcastle would have already made his major league debut.