The Orioles’ rebuild finally has its face.
After an agonizingly long draft process, Mike Elias has made his first draft selection in Baltimore, choosing Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
Rutschman is the rare draft prospect who entered the season as the presumptive favorite and never lost his grip on the top spot. All spring long, evaluators have struggled to nitpick the All-American backstop.
There literally does not exist a box that Rutschman cannot check as a catcher. Hit tool. Power. Arm. Receiving/framing. Athleticism. Leadership. Work ethic. Winner.
Rutschman does it all, enjoying a legendary career with the Beavers. During his sophomore season, the catcher set a College World Series record with 17 hits, all while leading the pitching staff to a stellar performance, culminating with a championship in Corvallis.
He followed it up with an even stronger junior season, adding previously untapped power to his repertoire.
Through it all, he’s kept a level head and focused on his game. That appeals to most MLB decision-makers, including the Orioles.
Are there potential downsides? Of course. No prospect in history has been perfect. Rutschman suffered a minor shoulder injury playing football as a sophomore... in high school. He’s not the fastest player in the world -- though hardly a concern at catcher.
Speaking of catchers, they don’t play every day, which is a turn-off for some. But the Orioles clearly weren’t deterred, recognizing the extra value they’ll be enjoying on the days Rutschman is behind the plate.
Evaluators have gushed about Rutschman for months, throwing superlative after superlative his way. Some think he combines both the highest floor and highest ceiling in the class. Many think he’s the best draft prospect since Bryce Harper in 2009.
Others think he’s better than Buster Posey, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. And at least one evaluator has announced he’ll be a top-five prospect in the Minor Leagues the moment he signs, which is almost unheard of.
Right now, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities he brings to Charm City. It’s a lot to put on his shoulders, but by all accounts, Rutschman is ready for it.
As excited as fans are in Baltimore tonight, you can be sure Mike Elias’ front office is celebrating three times over (save those who are preparing for the next 39 rounds of the draft). This is a major day for the future of the Orioles franchise.
Every team wants to make the right pick in the draft. By all accounts, the Orioles did just that.
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