Minor Monday: Orioles' director of player development says there's no timeline for Rutschman - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Minors

Minor Monday: Orioles’ director of player development says there’s no timeline for Rutschman

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Matt Blood, the Orioles’ director of player development, is not surprised that the club’s minor-league affiliates are having success.

The Orioles have placed an emphasis on evaluating players, getting them into the system and preparing them to take the next step.

The pandemic in 2020, which canceled the minor league season, created new challenges but Blood said the Orioles haven’t altered their process toward rebuilding with young talent.

“That’s the goal. They are all highly motivated,” Blood told BaltimoreBaseball.com. “Our coaching staff is doing a great job helping them along. I think you’re going to see a steady flow work its way into the major leagues over the next three years from this group. We’ll have a draft this year and another international signing and hopefully the pipeline replenishes itself.”

Low-A Delmarva, High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk have been competitive this season despite the movement of players. There is a sense of excitement among the minor-league clubs.

For Blood, it’s the pleasure of watching competitive baseball again after last year’s shutdown.

“It’s been great just to see them playing baseball games,” Blood said. “With the year off last year and all of the things we had to do virtually, teams playing and players accumulating stats, that has been awesome. It’s nice to see progress from a whole host of players. We’re seeing good performances from both pitchers and position players. We also see progress from players you see on the prospect lists and that’s very encouraging.”

The marquee player in the Orioles’ minor-league system is catcher Adley Rutschman, who is the No. 2 prospect in Major League Baseball behind Tampa Bay shortstop Wander Franco. Rutschman is playing up to expectations, and he was selected to participate in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on July 11th in Denver with Norfolk reliever Marcos Diplán.

Fans are eager for Rutschman to make his major-league debut, but Blood said the team is going to remain patient.

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“There’s no timeline,” Blood said. “As crazy as this may sound, it’s still his first full professional season. Allowing him to go through that is really the most important thing for him to experience — the ups and downs of the season.

“He is doing a great job. He is a very steady, very process-oriented kid. It’s been impressive to see him work and to lead in a very steady way … He’s the same guy every day, regardless of how he performs in a game. I think he’s highly respected because of that and also because he’s incredibly talented.”

Bowie’s Grayson Rodriguez is also showing the potential to be a dominant pitcher. Rodriguez, MLB.com’s top-ranked pitching prospect, has a fastball that touches 100 miles per hour and a changeup that looks like a screwball.

Rodriguez was named the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Minor League Co-Pitcher of the Year with Mike Baumann in 2019 after finishing the season with Class-A Delmarva, going 10-4 with 2.68 ERA. The 6-foot-5, 21-year-old right-hander was also named the 2019 South Atlantic League Most Outstanding MLB prospect.

Rodriguez has gone 6-1 with a 1.70 in 11 starts with the IronBirds and Baysox this season.

 “He has elite stuff,” Blood said. “He’s a highly competitive guy. He’s athletic. He’s still young. There’s a ton of upside and future value in Grayson.”

Blood said he has not been surprised by any players’ success. The Orioles have gotten solid pitching performances from Kyle Bradish (Norfolk), Kyle Brnovich (Bowie), and DL Hall (Bowie), who’s on the injured list because of tendinitis in his left arm.

The position players attracting the most interest are Gunnar Henderson (Aberdeen), Jordan Westburg (Aberdeen), Johnny Rizer (Bowie), Yusniel Diaz (Norfolk) and Hudson Haskin (Delmarva).

“What’s most important is they’re at a level that challenges them appropriately so that their growth is encouraged,” Blood said. “We don’t want players at levels just to play with other levels. We want them to move up and go to where they are going to be exposed a little more so they know where they need to improve and what they need to work on.”

Some other players, such as  infielder J.D. Mundy at Aberdeen, have caught the attention of coaches. Mundy is batting .302/.400/.616 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. Mundy, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020, was named the organization’s top position player for June.

“It’s been really great to see J.D. Mundy perform the way he has,” Blood said. “We didn’t really have any real experience with him before this year. He came to spring training and it was the first time we ever saw him and he’s hit from Day One. That’s been great. I wouldn’t say anything has been a surprise, but it’s been nice to see the success that players are having.”

Recent promotions include:

  • Infielder J.C. Escarra from Bowie to Norfolk.

  • Brnovich, infielder Toby Welk and outfielder Kyle Stowers from Aberdeen to Bowie.

  • Outfielders Trevor Kehe and Dylan Harris from Delmarva to Aberdeen.

  • Infielders Yorkislandy Alvarez and outfielder Lamar Sparks to Delmarva.

“We’ve promoted some players aggressively and want to see them catch up to the levels where they are and start to excel more,” Blood said. “They all have things that they’re working on. They have specific goals for what they need to accomplish to get to the next level.”

The Orioles say the rebuilding plan is working and that general manager Mike Elias is laying the foundation for long-term success.

The Orioles have the fifth-ranked minor-league system among the 30 major-league teams, according to MLB Pipeline. The question is whether this minor-league talent will make the transition to everyday major-league players.

Blood likes what he sees.

“I think Mike Elias and the player procurement group has done a fantastic job of replenishing the system with talent up and down,” Blood said. “Our coaching staff is doing a great job at helping these players develop. It’s very evident that those two things combined are leading to success. We are winning a lot of games, but the players are performing and they’re getting better and that’s what’s most important.

“We are at a much better place than we were a few years ago and it’s going to show up in the major leagues.”

Means on the mend: John Means allowed one run and one hit with two strikeouts in two innings in his first rehab start with Aberdeen on Sunday. Means was forced to leave the game against the Cleveland Indians after facing just five batters on June 5th because of shoulder tightness. He underwent an MRI that revealed a strain in his left shoulder. He had the same injury in 2019. He also opened the 2020 season on the injured list because of shoulder fatigue. Means is expected to return to the Orioles’ rotation after the All-Star break.

Arms race: The Delmarva Shorebirds had a league-best 2.84 ERA in June with 276 strikeouts just 91 walks in 221 2/3 innings. Opponents hit .203 against Delmarva in June. Ryan Watson, another undrafted free agent (1.04 ERA in 26 innings) is among eight pitchers who have an ERA under 2.00. Delmarva pitchers went a stretch of nine games (June 18-June 30) in which they didn’t allow more than three runs in a game and, at one point, recorded 16 consecutive scoreless innings.

Jones heating up: Norfolk second baseman Jahmai Jones has reached base safely in 23 consecutive games. He was hitting .308 (25-for-81) with 12 runs, five doubles, two home runs, 14 RBIs, 20 walks and a hit-by-pitch since returning to Norfolk on June 8th.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. TxBirdFan

    July 5, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Another nice Minors recap! Thanks Todd! It’s good to read that positive things are happening within the Oriole system. I’m hopeful the shameful tanking at the major league level stops soon.

  2. ptjhu

    July 5, 2021 at 8:23 am

    I know it’s only one catch, but please look at this Johnny Rizer play while he was at TCU — it’s Kenny Loften-esque: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZLHv9O6dfw

    Here’s hoping Rizer gets a chance to make other catches at Camden Yards.

    • Tileman

      July 5, 2021 at 9:18 am

      Nice catch for sure! Thx for posting the video

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 5, 2021 at 11:02 am

      Awesome play. Haven’t seen that kind of thing in OPACY in quite a while.

  3. Orioles20

    July 5, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Good to see that the player development is working. That is something this organization has lacked for years and it shows. Up and down the organization there are great and under the radar players like Mundy who was undrafted. There is no need to rush Adley. As bad as Severino has been Adley needs to stay down there and play. Like Blood said this is his first full season. If the Orioles were somewhat competitive you might see him like the White Sox did with Andrew Vaughan and like the Rays did with Franco. Why waste his good years with this crappy team. This way we can have his prime years as we win.

  4. millboy

    July 5, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Another great article…I know many fans call it tanking, but if you don’t build a strong foundation, you can’t sustain a strong club at the major league level

  5. PC in OC

    July 5, 2021 at 10:03 am

    It seems like the O’s, have the makings of a Great Outfield and once certain players get to the Majors, our infield, shouldn’t be to far behind, However, Where is our Pitching, The O’s need Pitching, Pitching, Pitching and more Pitching!!! I can’t say it enough. We don’t need Trades for another in fielder, outfielder or catcher or obtaining them from Waivers, We have plenty in our own system, that are actually, pretty good. Again, We Need Pitchers. And until We actually get Pitchers, Who Really Know How to Pitch, We AIN’T Going Anywhere!!! We can dream all we want, we can say what we want, we can criticize each other, ( all we want ) for some of the comments we make, But until we get Pitching, Guess What, We, Ain’t Going Anywhere!!!!!!!

    • cedar

      July 5, 2021 at 10:34 am

      Rodriguez, Bradish, Brnovich, Hall, and Watson all pitchers mentioned in this article. Include the 7 pitchers at Delmarva along with Watson all with ERAs under 2.00 and there seems to be a good stable of pitchers making their way up the ladder.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 5, 2021 at 11:03 am

      So you’re saying that we need better pitching?

  6. Orial

    July 5, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Good in depth analysis Todd. Like Rodriguez’s numbers(6-1,1.70) but I think it breaks down a little unevenly as he advanced to Bowie if I’m correct. Hidden stat I liked—Delmarva leading the league in ERA. THAT’S the future. Jones seems oh so close(after All Star break?). Rutschman–no reason to rush. Why should he get his feet into this negative quick sand up here anyway? Getting MLB experience? Not even sure that’s what you could call it. Now the inevitable question–how does Diaz actually look?

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 5, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Call Adley up soon.

    And why exactly isn’t J Jones already here?

    And Ramon Urias …. showing me some juevos and heart with this 2nd chance he has. I can’t say I’m not surprised. Gotta shore up that defense though …

    • Icterus fan

      July 5, 2021 at 11:50 am

      This joint’s jumpin’ for Jones!
      Look at his stats. Agree we should bring him up here.

  8. Buzz1979

    July 5, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Can’t wait, Severino is absolute garbage and should have never been resigned!

  9. Balt mp

    July 5, 2021 at 11:56 am

    There is NO reason on this planet to call Adley up he is essentially moving from college to Double A ball . His bat needs to further develop his defense is there now . If you bring him or Rodriguez or Hall or any top tier talent to the current hot mess in Baltimore you need to see a doctor. First these guys have all missed a year so there development is somewhat stunted. Second why burn service time on a 30 game under 500 team . Lastly if there is work stoppage next year and they are on the roster they would be further stunted in their development. Fans have got to learn you have to stop pushing and rushing kids thru frankly I wouldn’t think of bringing anybody up til September 2022 at the earliest and only if I could bring up 3-5 players . I don’t one guy because one guy will NOT make a difference on this dumpster fire but if you bring up half a squad that have played together and that would also reduce the media glare on any one player you should make a difference.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 5, 2021 at 3:00 pm

      I disagree … I can find plenty of reason to bring Rutschman up.

      Don’t tell me they ‘missed a year’ when they (Rutschman) played in camp last year with mostly AA and AAA players. Same place, same times, same regiment does not equal lost time. Factoring in no travel, and they got at least as much time playing, probably more, than they would have had they played a regular season. And Rutschman by all accounts, tore that camp up.

      Rutschman played 3 years of major college ball. Don’t tell me that’s not tipping the experience meter equivalent to a couple of years of A ball. This kid is more than ready.

      And if you don’t think this one player would make a difference behind the plate, maybe it’s not me and the others around here that should ‘see a doctor’. But then again, I suppose ‘we fans’ need to learn from the other experts around here ‘eh?

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        July 5, 2021 at 6:21 pm

        Do you guys think it’s a good idea how they’ve had Adley playing some at 1B?

        I see it being a good thing because it will keep his bat in the lineup on his offdays at C, and being beneficial for his longevity as well.

        Even if he wasn’t doing 1B I think it would be foolish to send him straight to MLB without spending time at AAA. And, I think it’s worth keeping him at AA for a little bit while he develops his skills at 1B.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          July 5, 2021 at 10:48 pm

          NO problem with him getting days at 1B. Why not?

          As far as AAA….I think it’s useless, although I think he’d have to in order to follow Covid Protocols. Dubroff explained that to me a few weeks ago.

    • CalsPals

      July 5, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      Agree, beating a dead horse but sick of hearing “He only played 3 yrs of college ball”, disrespectful, like it meant nothing, last I checked National player of the yr, MVP of the college WS, does he really need to “learn” anything else in the minors, I think not…go O’s…

  10. dlgruber1

    July 5, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    I’m simply enjoying reading about players having some success. I never get too hyped about ANY minor leaguer because of how much of a jump it is to major leagues but still, it’s fun reading.

  11. PC in OC

    July 5, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    To Cedar & Boog, YES, We need better pitching. Everyone is talking about Rodriguez, Hall, Bradish and a few more. I like them all and I wish all of them, the best. All I,m saying is, We Need Pitching, We have plenty of everything else. It’s a different Ballgame, when they get to the Majors. I hope and pray, they are the real deal. Besides Means, Who else came up ( recently ) and showed they belong. On Zimmerman, as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out. All of the good and sometimes, the great pitchers we had, We gave them Away!!! Let’s see, what they do, when they come to the Yard! Good, I Hope!!!

    • cedar

      July 5, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      I agree that the team can never have too many good pitchers. I just think there is a good group already in the system and we should see more of that in that future.

      • Xtine101400

        July 5, 2021 at 8:17 pm

        You’re 25 games out of 1st place. Do you want to keep “developing” your #1 draft who knows more about baseball than anyone, or do you want to see if he can help you out? Just saying.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 5, 2021 at 3:06 pm

      PC … I was joshing with you. Doesn’t take a baseball savant to recognize the pitching trumps all.

      But don’t expect anyone pitching in OPACY to have Kofax and Gibson type numbers. I’ll settle for any pitcher than can hang an ERA under 4.00 with the O’s.

  12. cedar

    July 5, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Todd – maybe you can bring a little clarity to the Adley Rutschmann discussion. I believe that if there is a strike in 2022, the minors can/do continue playing. If a player (such as Adley) is added to the roster this year. What is the impact to him if the players union declares a strike for the 2022 season?

    • DcOsfan

      July 5, 2021 at 10:07 pm

      Cedar – you make a good point. I also think the issue shouldn’t be why is he in the majors but why isn’t he at Norfolk?

    • ToddKarpovich

      July 6, 2021 at 7:14 am

      If he has options, he could still play in the minors, but after talking to Blood, I don’t think Adley will get promoted this season, As far as a work stoppage, that would be catastrophic to the game. Both sides will be motivated to get some kind of deal done.

  13. 33d St

    July 5, 2021 at 5:57 pm

    Great article Todd – very informative. And some positive news to boot. Even if the payoff we are hoping for is still a couple years away.

  14. Balt mp

    July 5, 2021 at 7:30 pm

    The object is to maximize the amount of talent you can put on the field at anytime and to maintain that talent for a maximum amount of time . For the Orioles that’s about 5 years again I say you just can’t bring one or two guys up and expect 2 guys Rutchman and Rodriguez to turn this dumpster fire around all your doing is attrition of your talent . You’ve got 5 mlb caliber players in your current line-up one of which or two may be traded so you may only have 3 you have one mlb caliber starting pitcher with a possible second hurt and two mlb caliber relievers so to sum up you have maybe 10 players on a 26 man roster that are mlb players and a couple fringe players. Anybody and I mean anybody that thinks adding either Rutchman or Rodriguez to this current roster either now or maybe next year really don’t get it . When you add those two and a Bishop and a Westburg and DJ Hall and a couple of the pitchers from the California trades coupled with Mountcastle and Hayes and Mullens and maybe a Jones . Means and Zimmerman should still be there then maybe your at a spot where you add a top tier YOUNG free agent. We’ve done it wrong for 25 years and we’ve had 3 winning seasons in those 25 years . Maybe we should try something different .

  15. Mtairyordge

    July 5, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    With an ode to The Oriole Way and the lack of fundamental baseball we’ve seen at the major league level, especially at catcher, are the minor league teams teaching fundamentals in a consistent manner? PLEASE SAY YES.

    • Balt mp

      July 5, 2021 at 8:50 pm

      That’s the problem Severino was a waiver or dfa claim so that tells you what they thought . Sisco another development failure. Wynns another outside the organization pickup . Franco free agent pickup same with Urias . The point I’m making is that half your starters are not from your organization so you didn’t draft or develop them they’re castoffs from other organizations . This is where your manager and coaching staff have to come up big and Hyde and his crew have not .

  16. ToddKarpovich

    July 6, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Thanks for the support, guys, I do appreciate it. Talk to you next week.

  17. Mikepete73

    July 7, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    since this is a minors thread I wanted to say that the M.Machado trade is looking like a bust. Y.Diaz .194 at Norfolk D.Kremer has been terrible with O’s and now terrible back at Norfolk. R.Bannon .175 at Norfolk even went 1-21 at a rehab assignment at aberdeen. Valera gone. Z.Pop has been pitching good lately after a tough start with Miami. I still can’t believe that they couldn’t put him on the 40man so we didn’t lose him they found room for Jannis, Wade,Sceroler. I cant believe all those trades the O’s made a few yrs back all look like busts. Machado,Z.Britton we got c.carroll who’s struggling and j.Rogers gone. J.Schoop we got Ortiz gone and J.Carmona who in a small sample size is hitting .300 at a ball so we might get no ML help from all those “prospects” we got. also the gausman and bundy trades not sure yet. we got zimmerman in the gausman trade but Cumberland probably isn’t gonna help at ML and encarnacion is already gone. the bundy trade there is a shot that 1 or 2 might help

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