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Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle fell short of Baseball America’s Top 100. He’ll still influence 2020 in a big way.

Long before top prospects Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, and DL Hall make it to Camden Yards, a prospect who has spent years on the same top 100 list at Baseball America that those players landed on Tuesday will already be with the Orioles.

But that player, Ryan Mountcastle, fell off the list this year despite the fact that he’s about as close to the majors as one can be, with a sterling minor league track record on his resume.

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It’s a unique dichotomy, but it doesn’t do much to diminish the fact that Mountcastle is still going to make his major league debut and will likely be one of the most exciting bats on the Orioles the moment he arrives.

Mountcastle, 24, was rated No. 5 in the Orioles’ farm system by Baseball America and was among the publication’s top 100 prospects last season. He’s been as high as No. 2 in Baseball America’s organizational rankings and was No. 90 in their overall rankings after the 2018 season.

And it’s all been well-deserved. Mountcastle has hit consistently since the Orioles signed him to a $1.3 million bonus with the compensatory first-round draft pick for losing slugger Nelson Cruz in free agency. It was mostly doubles power when Mountcastle hit .281 with 10 home runs and a .745 OPS at age-19 at Low-A Delmarva, but he grew into his power the next year at High-A Frederick while batting .314 with 51 extra-base hits in a half-season there.

His promotion to Double-A Bowie that summer came with a position change from shortstop to third base, and thus began the quest to find Mountcastle a suitable defensive position that has dampened his bright outlook for years.

Third base didn’t exactly take off at Bowie, but his bat did. Under a new front office, Mountcastle played first base and some left field in addition to third base and hit .312 with 35 doubles and 25 home runs while winning the International League MVP award at Triple-A Norfolk.

Because he did so without mastering a defensive position and while walking 24 times against 130 strikeouts, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and the Orioles didn’t add him to the major league roster in September, instead opting to wait until the offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

Now that he’s on the roster, the Orioles won’t have many impediments to bringing him up other than his free-agency considerations: delaying Mountcastle’s call-up can give the Orioles an extra year of club control and delay the start of salary arbitration for him. There are also developmental considerations and the fact that the Orioles have incumbents at all of his natural positions.

By then, he might have made it back into the Baseball America Top 100 by virtue of some graduations above him. He’s also liable to take his opportunities to ride the bus around Florida and get a ton of Grapefruit League at-bats in spring training and lift his stock with some February and March home runs, as his handsy, lofted swing is built for power even when he’s not trying to hit it out.

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But just because Mountcastle didn’t make four Orioles prospects among the game’s top 100 doesn’t change his outlook for 2020. It won’t be long before he becomes the first major hitting prospect to make his debut under the new Orioles regime, and gets a chance to justify the hype.

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