Orioles' new era begins with Adley Rutschman signing - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ new era begins with Adley Rutschman signing

Photo credit: Steven Branscombe - USA Today Sports

SALISBURY—The Orioles’ signing of overall first draft choice Adley Rutschman comes, coincidentally or not, at a most interesting time.

Rutschman, the switch-hitting catcher from Oregon State whose signing was announced on Monday, was greeted enthusiastically by hero-starved Orioles fans when drafted on June 3.

Not only has Rutschman signed, but according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the team is close to signing Alabama high school shortstop Gunnar Henderson, their second-round choice.

If Rutschman and Henderson sign, that will mean 10 of the 11 top Orioles picks have signed ahead of the July 12 deadline. Only LSU outfielder Zach Watson, chosen in the third round, hasn’t signed. Last Friday, the team signed Stanford centerfielder Kyle Stowers, chosen in the competitive balance round.

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This infusion of talent would come concurrently with Manny Machado’s return to Baltimore. Machado, who was the third overall pick in 2010, is in town for two games with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Signings of Rutschman and Henderson are excellent news for fans who’ve suffered a talent drain that began when Machado was traded just after last July’s All-Star Game to the Los Angeles Dodgers for five players.

One of those players, infielder Breyvic Valera, is with the New York Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. Another, reliever Zach Pop, is on the minor league 60-day injured list after Tommy John surgery.

Infielder Rylan Bannon was named to the Eastern League All-Star team on Monday. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz was last week’s EL Player of the Week and celebrated the birth of a child. Pitcher Dean Kremer is having a disappointing season with the Baysox, having missed significant time because of an oblique injury.

Machado, as wonderful a player as he was for the Orioles, represents the past. Now, Rutschman, Henderson and Stowers are the first avatars of general manager Mike Elias’ Orioles makeover.

Last year, shortstop Cadyn Grenier was taken with the 37th overall pick by the Orioles. Grenier was a teammate of Rutschman at Oregon State, which last year won the College World Series.

Grenier is in his second season with the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds of the South Atlantic League. The previous Orioles regime decided to send him directly from college to Delmarva.

Elias hasn’t said where Rutschman would start.

“It’s cool that he could have a chance to come play with us and try to help us win a championship here,” Grenier said.

“… Adley would mix right in with us, with no problem. He’d fit in perfectly. It would be a lot of fun tor me to be with him again. It would probably be easier for him because I’ve been in pro ball for almost a full year. Helping him get going in pro ball would be huge.”

If Rutschman comes to the Shorebirds instead of starting at Short-Season Aberdeen, he would catch promising pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and Drew Rom, who are two years younger and were drafted from high school.

“Having someone like Adley behind the plate gives every pitcher a lot more confidence,” Grenier said. “The way he carries himself. He kind of hypes up the pitchers when they get out of huge jams. It helps them build their confidence, keep their confidence up, even if they have a rough inning.

“Even for guys like Drew and Grayson, who have had great years and are awesome pitchers, having him back there could boost him a little more. It’s going to help the back-end guys in the bullpen who are maybe struggling or don’t throw a ton. Having him back there gives them a lot more confidence that they can throw all their stuff.”

Grenier says that Rutschman is a “laid-back, calm guy. He’s got a great personality, very sociable, very kind, very genuine … somebody that’s just a joy to talk to.”

Shorebirds  manager Kyle Moore said that he’s thought about having Rutschman start his professional career with Delmarva.

“I try not to. I think, ‘I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to get my hopes up,’” Moore said. “But then, I asked Cadyn about him: ‘What do you have on this kid that we drafted?’ He said, ‘He’s the best player I ever played with,’ and as soon as he said it, I said, ‘Man, I hope we get him.’

“I wouldn’t mind managing him in the second half and seeing what he does,” Moore said. “All of our pitchers are prospects … I thought, ‘Why wouldn’t they want to send him here?’

“… It’s not like it’s at the front of my radar, but if he walked in the clubhouse, I’d be really happy.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Camden Brooks

    June 25, 2019 at 7:45 am

    With the way he dominated against some of the best college competition, I can’t fathom this kid starting in Aberdeen. But hey, I couldn’t fathom a lot of things that ended up happening…

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2019 at 7:48 am

      I would guess Delmarva, but he hasn’t played in nearly four weeks.

    • Camden Brooks

      June 25, 2019 at 9:17 am

      I’m sure he knows where, so call him up and ask him Rich.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    June 25, 2019 at 10:07 am

    MLB Pipeline has updated their rankings, and now the Orioles are the proud owner of the #8 prospect in all the land.

    I’m pulling for Aberdeen to get the kids feet wet, but mainly because it’s closer to my home and office and I want to get a peek at my shiny new toy. Maybe just for a couple of starts, then stick him in Delmarva in the midst of a post-season run. What better way for a catcher to build rapport with a young staff then to dump champagne on their heads while the trophy gets wheeled into the clubhouse. (I assume they do that in A ball).

    I’m almost as intrigued by Henderson as I am Rutsch, and yes I am calling him that from now on and so should you. Kid sounds like a stud, albeit a raw one. Having seen Alabama/ Georgia High school ball firsthand, that’s a fertile breeding ground, Colby Rasmus notwithstanding.

    I am curious what the organization thinks of throwing a new catcher into the mix and it’s effect on the pitching prospects. Daniel Fajardo down in Delmarva is hardly a prospect, but you can’t deny the success he has had handling that staff.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2019 at 10:28 am

      Fajardo was moved up to Frederick last Thursday, Bancells.

      • Bancells Moustache

        June 25, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        Problem solved. That also seems like a pretty big clue about placement.

    • Jbigle1

      June 25, 2019 at 10:39 am

      #8 prospect is damn aggressive for a guy who hasn’t taken a minor league AB. But I like to hear it….

  3. ButchBird59

    June 25, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Rich, thank you for the information.

    “Outfielder Yusniel Diaz was last week’s EL Player of the Week and celebrated the birth of a child.”

    Ah! That explains why a guy that had 8 hits in 5 games and took his average from .208 to .243 was suddenly listed as “Temporarily inactive”. I was about to suggest you tell Kendall to head back to Bowie in a hurry. 🙂

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2019 at 10:29 am

      You’re welcome, Butch.

  4. willmiranda

    June 25, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Good to see Elias & Co. taking care of business. As for placement, it seems there”s a much bigger gap between college and professional baseball than is found in other sports. Any comments?

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2019 at 11:40 am

      Yes because the best players don’t step from college to the majors unlike the NBA or NFL, will. Ask Kyler Murray.

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    June 25, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Usually they send signed drafted players to Sarasota. They work out for a few weeks and then are assigned to the minors. With Rutschman’s advanced level it will likely be Demarva imo. However Matt Wieters started at Frederick.

    • Rich Dubroff

      June 25, 2019 at 5:40 pm

      It was a different administration, Grand Strand, and Wieters didn’t play until the following year after he signed.

  6. deqalt

    June 25, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    I am excited about the direction Orioles are going. I was surprised Adley was graded as a 60 by fangraphs. I expected the scouts to have him in the 65 range. Hopefully he can hit that in the minors!

  7. PA Bird Lover

    June 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Good place to win his first Orioles title.

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