Rutschman, Bautista, Hays wait on All-Star news; When will All-Star Game return to Baltimore? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Rutschman, Bautista, Hays wait on All-Star news; When will All-Star Game return to Baltimore?

Photo Credit: Brad Mills USA TODAY Sports

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Ten years ago, the Orioles selected four catchers among their top 11 draft picks. In a major upset, one of those catchers, the Texas Rangers’ Jonah Heim, now in his fourth organization, has beaten out Adley Rutschman, the overall top pick in the 2019 draft, as the starting catcher for the American League’s All-Star team.

The game will be played in Seattle’s T-Mobile Park on July 11th.

Rutschman led all catchers in Phase 1 fan voting, but Heim received 52 percent of the vote in the final phase to Rutschman’s 48 percent.

Heim, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2013, reached High-A Frederick in 2016 before he was traded to Tampa Bay on August 1st for outfielder Steve Pearce. He moved on to Oakland, where he made his major league debut in 2020 before he was traded to Texas on February 6th, 2021.

While Rutschman has made a major difference for the Orioles since his arrival in May 2022, Heim’s statistics were better.

Heim, who along with second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Corey Seager and third baseman Josh Jung gives the Rangers four starters, has a 2.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) compared to Rutschman’s 1.8

He’s batting .279 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs with an .800 OPS and has thrown out 26 percent of runners attempting to steal.

Rutschman is hitting .268 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs and a .789 OPS. He leads the American League with 52 walks. He’s thrown out 18 percent of runners attempting to steal.

The reserves and pitchers will be announced on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Rutschman appears to have an excellent chance to make the team. His major competition could come from seven-time All-Star Salvador Perez, who has a .7 WAR but his team, the Kansas City Royals, with a horrid 23-58 record must be represented.

The best Royals choice is probably reliever Aroldis Chapman, who has revived his career with a 2.45 ERA, though he has just two saves.

Oriole closer Felix Bautista’s selection seems a certainty. Bautista is 3-1 with a 1.19 ERA and 21 saves. He has allowed fewer than five hits per nine innings, and he has struck out more than half the batters he’s faced (76/151).

Though Aaron Judge was voted as a starting outfielder, he has been out with a ligament strain in his right big toe. That could help outfielder Austin Hays make the team. Hays is hitting .314 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs with an .853 OPS. He has a 2.1 WAR.

The Orioles haven’t had multiple All-Stars since 2016, the last year they qualified for the postseason. That year, pitchers Brad Brach, Zack Britton, catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado and outfielder Mark Trumbo made the team.

Baltimore as All-Star host? Next month marks the 30th anniversary of the All-Star Game’s last appearance in Baltimore. Next year’s game will be played at Texas’ Globe Life Field, and in 2026, the game will be played at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

Many clubs would like to host the game, and Wrigley Field, the site of the 1990 game, and Fenway Park, which hosted the 1999 game, are eager to do so.

With the recent settlement of the MASN suit, perhaps Oriole Park will receive serious consideration in the coming years, but Major League Baseball probably will wait until the stadium undergoes renovations once the new long-term lease is signed.

Other Orioles in Seattle: After Gunnar Henderson slugged his 462-foot home run, the longest Eutaw Street homer in history, there was some sentiment that the 22-year-old rookie infielder could get an invitation to the Home Run Derby on July 10th.

So far, Seattle outfielder Julio Rodriguez, who will be competing in his home park, Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder/second baseman Mookie Betts are the only confirmed participants.

The last Oriole in the Home Run Derby was Trey Mancini, who wasn’t selected for the All-Star Game in 2021. He finished second to the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso.

While Oriole fans might want to see Henderson compete, it would seem a stretch to fly Henderson to Seattle after the final game of the first half on July 9th for the next day’s competition.

The chatter around Henderson is centered on that lone home run. He has 11, which is tied for second on the team with Ryan Mountcastle, who’s on injury rehab at Triple-A Norfolk and trails Anthony Santander’s 14.

Two of the brightest Oriole prospects, High-A Aberdeen shortstop Jackson Holliday, MLB Pipeline’s top-rated prospect and Triple-A Norfolk first baseman/outfielder Heston Kjerstad, ranked 39th, will play in the Futures Game on July 8th.

That game, along with Sunday’s game against Minnesota, will be available only on Peacock.

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