The Orioles selected catcher Adley Rutschman with the first pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft on Monday night.
Rutschman, a 21-year-old junior from Oregon State, batted .418 with a .580 on-base percentage and .784 slugging percentage. His OPS was 1.344.
Oregon State, which won the College World Series a year ago, was eliminated in an NCAA regional on Saturday.
Rutschman had hoped to be the No. 1 pick but had little advance warming.
“It was about a minute before they called my name,” Rutschman told MASN shortly after the pick was announced. “It’s been a whirlwind, a lot of emotion. Now, it’s a sigh of relief.”
In a conference call later, Rutschman said he wasn’t certain that he was going to be the No. 1 selection.
“There’s always doubt,” he said. “You never know how it’s going to shake out and what the organization was thinking. There was doubt and you didn’t know what was going to happen, but it ended up working out for the best.”
Orioles general manager Mike Elias raved about Rutschman.
“It’s hard to know where to start with Adley Rutschman,” Elias said. “He’s a switch-hitting catcher, with power, plus he can hit from both sides with an unbelievable statistical resume.
“He did it with Team USA, Oregon State, and won a national championship. He’s a team leader on and off the field.
“He’s everything you want, and he plays a premium defensive position with athleticism that gives him versatility to play elsewhere, as needed. Adley is a future fixture for this organization.”
Elias talked about the weight of choosing first.
“The No. 1 overall pick is a big decision,” he said. “There are pros and cons with every player profile and every player. We like to work our way through all of that and ultimately decided for the long-range benefit of the organization that this was the right pick. We’re very excited about what this is going to do for our future.”
Elias doesn’t think Rutschman’s contract negotiations will take long.
“I think pretty quickly because [Oregon State] just got knocked out, which is kind of nice for us,” Elias told MASN. “He’ll be able to initiate the process pretty quickly and I think early this summer, we’ll be able to get him out somewhere to get him some at-bats.
“In terms of where we start him, I haven’t made that determination yet.”
Rutschman hasn’t thought about negotiations, but said it should go smoothly.
“I’m sure all that stuff will get cleared up in the next couple of days,” Rutschman said. “I’m excited to get going.”
Rutschman did get a chance to meet with Elias, and he was impressed.
“I had an opportunity to sit down with them and see what they were about,” Rutschman said. “They were very open, and I felt very fortunate to be a part of it.”
He said he’s never been to Baltimore and is looking forward to his first visit.
“I’m excited to get familiar with it,” he said. “But I’m a West Coast guy, so it will be exciting.”
Rutschman attracted attention when he was walked intentionally by Cincinnati with the bases loaded on Friday night. His team was eliminated the next day.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” he said. “Today’s been crazy, crazy good.”
He’s the first catcher selected first since Minnesota picked Joe Mauer in 2001, and the first catcher picked by the Orioles in the first round since Matt Wieters in 2007.
“As a catcher, I work hard,” Rutschman said. “I feel like controlling a staff is a big part of being a catcher, how you adapt to different pitching personalities, finding what each one of their strengths is. I feel I’m invested.”
It’s the first time the Orioles had an overall No. 1 selection since they picked pitcher Ben McDonald in 1989.
The Orioles selected shortstop Gunnar Henderson from John T. Morgan Academy in Selma, Alabama in the second round. With the 71st pick in the Competitive Balance B round, they took outfielder Kyle Stowers from Stanford.