The Orioles announced the signing of Ryan Mountcastle, their second first-round pick in the 2015 draft, on Tuesday. According to an industry source, the contract is worth $1.3 million, about $400,000 under the projected slot.
Mountcastle, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound shortstop selected 36th overall out of Oviedo High School in Florida, is represented by Tripper Johnson of Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon. Johnson was an Orioles first-round pick (32nd overall) in 2000 and reached Double-A Bowie with the organization.
Mountcastle batted .500 with two home runs and 22 stolen bases in 84 at-bats as a high school senior this year.
"He’s an advanced hitter, he has on-base and slugging ability. He has bat speed, he will grind at-bats, he has pitch recognition and he has discipline at the plate," Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said. "He’ll go to the plate to do damage, because he likes to hit, he’s aggressive but he’s also selective and patient. ... He’s just a good all-around baseball player and we’re looking forward to watching him out here at Camden Yards for many years."
Mountcastle was taken at the end of the first round as a compensatory pick because of the club’s loss of free-agent Nelson Cruz this winter. Mountcastle, who had committed to play college baseball at Central Florida, was the Orioles’ second-highest pick in the draft; their top selection, outfielder DJ Stewart of Florida State, has not agreed to terms, a source said.
Mountcastle chose to sign over playing college ball.
"There’s a lot of reasons, but definitely the money was life-changing, I think, to forego college and go pro and I just want to start my career a little bit earlier and try to make it to the big leagues as fast as I can," he said.
Rajsich said Mountcastle will begin with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles and will remain a shortstop there.
Mountcastle is open to playing shortstop or third base, whichever the Orioles choose.
"Either or, I just love playing the game," he said. "Whatever it takes for the team to win I’m willing to do it. So that's my opinion on it."
With the signing $400,000 under slot, the Orioles will use that on others they selected in the top 10 rounds of the draft.
Rajsich said more draft picks could follow Mountcastle's lead and sign soon.
"We’re very close. We’ve been working pretty hard over the last few days to line everything up," Rajsich said. "We are elated, naturally, to get Ryan signed and get him going. He was one of our main goals to get going on first, and it’s important to have him done and have everything behind us now and he can go out and play."
Mountcastle has enjoyed the experience of getting to this point - being drafted to signing with the organization.
"It's been a little bit hectic, but it’s definitely the greatest time in my life so far," he said. "I just love the experience here in Baltimore. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better time here."