Baseball has produced more than its fair share of big-name prospects with sizable (some would say exaggerated) hype. One of the names you hear bounced around is Ryan Mountcastle. So here it is, your Ryan Mountcastle rookie card guide
Ryan is a different animal from most other hyped prospects. The Orioles outfielder has enjoyed less hype but brought home more receipts than the other rookies. So who is this guy?
Ryan is a left-fielder for the Baltimore Orioles. Drafted 36th in the 1st round of the 2015 draft, he was known as a solid though unspectacular prospect at the time.
But the boy could always hit. He would be appreciated more today, as scouts are increasingly interested in bat-speed, a metric by which Mountcastle has always excelled. However, another mark against him was and remained his unspectacular defense. His mediocre fielding capabilities saw him move from high school shortstop to MLB left-fielder.
Ryan batted .500 in high school and won the Carolina League batting title with .314 in 2017. However, he also developed power, and in 2019, he hit 25 dingers in the Triple-A International League, winning MVP along the way.
The Orioles were expecting good production from Mountcastle when they promoted him to the Show in August 2020. He has certainly delivered. The left-fielder has a .280 batting average and 19 homers in his first 418 MLB at-bats.
But there are plenty of question marks surrounding his performance. First, his plate discipline needs work. Ryan has a career on-base percentage of .327, with few walks. We have also already discussed his fielding woes.
However, there is much to like about Ryan mentally. And for a talented rookie, that may be the most important part. Not a natural power hitter, he learned to add that to his arsenal. Mountcastle has worked with his limited fielding abilities and is improving out there regularly. He is a tough player willing to learn and improve.
Orioles coach Brandon Hyde pencils Ryan in at the cleanup spot every day. That speaks volumes for how reliable and mature the 24-year old left-fielder is.
It is easy to imagine him hitting a bit over .300, and about 35 home runs a year in his prime. That is even without a notable uptick in his plate discipline. With it, the ceiling is higher.
Notice the words we are using to describe Ryan: reliable, mature, learning. In the hobby, we prefer our players flashy and spectacular. That means Ryan has gotten short thrift compared to more spectacular prospects of his cohort like Ke’Bryan Hayes and Alec Bohm.
Let’s compare the current market value of Ryan’s cards to some other young baseball stars. We avoided comparing him to the more proven massive young stars like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vlad Guerrero Jr. to keep it comparable. All card prices are for PSA 10s.
|Bowman 1st||Bowman Auto||Flagship RC|
|Ke’Bryan Hayes||$137.50||$1,225||No graded cards sold yet (Series 2)|
The comparison shows that Ryan’s solid and consistent performances for the Orioles have lowered the gap with the other flashier players. However, he still has a lower buy-in despite having a better MLB record than the other players on this list.
The Orioles left-fielder has hitting capabilities comparable to Hayes. Indeed, Hayes is a more efficient hitter right now because of his superior discipline at the plate.
However, Ryan has more power potential, and it is already showing. According to FanGraphs, the Orioles outfielder is projected to hit over 20 home runs annually in the next few years. Meanwhile, Hayes is expected to hit under 15.
Alec Bohm has similar power and hitting abilities to Ryan. However, the Phillies Third Baseman has demonstrated limited ability in the Majors so far.
Here is a look at their career stats so far:
|Batting Average||On Base Percentage||Slugging Average||Home Runs||OPS+||WAR|
The only player on this list with a clear advantage in upside is Robert. Luis was a #2 prospect and has the potential to emerge as a franchise player.
However, his recent injury woes have raised some concerns, and his performance in the Show has not been up to the expected standard. Therefore, Ryan is arguably the best investment among the four and definitely one of the top two.
Autos are often a good choice for investment. However, in Mountcastle’s case, even more so. As we have seen, his autos are selling for significantly less than many comparable (and possibly less impressive) players.
Ryan’s Bowman 1sts came around in 2015. Thankfully, that was well before the card boom, and the print runs were low. Therefore, pops will not grow much, and the value of the autos from that series may be potentially high.
Due to this combination, anything from the 2015 Bowman Chrome Draft Pick Autograph series is a no-brainer.
Just look at these populations:
|Card||PSA 9||PSA 10||Total Pop|
|Black Refractor Auto||2||2||4|
|Gold Refractor Auto||1||0||1|
|Green Refractor Auto||4||4||9|
|Orange Refractor Auto||2||4||6|
|Purple Refractor Auto||11||8||21|
As you can see from the pop report, the Gold Refractor stands out as having the lowest pop. Whoever gets that first PSA 10 card may have quite the card on their hands. There are 50 out there. Somewhere. We even found one on eBay. Raw.
Ryan’s flagship rookie card appeared in the 2021 Series 1 release. And unfortunately, that is not a good thing. The series was printed at the height of the COVID-19 card boom and vastly overprinted by all accounts.
As discussed above, a flagship PSA 10 of his goes for a bit under $150 right now. We are not sure it ever gets much higher. According to the pop report, there are only 25 PSA 10’s, but with so many available, if Mountcastle pans out, there will be a ton out there.
His raw cards are probably worth $2. Unfortunately, these just aren’t great cards to invest in.
Obviously, with so much licensed Topps stuff out there, few will be turning to Ryan’s unlicensed cards.
There is an excellent case to be made to invest in the tier below the over-hyped players since they are often commanding unrealistic prices. However, Ryan stands out in that tier as a proven and reliable MLB player, on the verge of stardom.
In addition, as a prospect arriving on the scene before the boom, he has good pop numbers to back up investment. Ryan Mountcastle is one of the better baseball investments out there right now.