The White Sox added Rutherford to the player pool Tuesday, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. Rutherford, a first-round pick in 2016, has stalled in his progression since coming to the White Sox in 2017. The corner outfielder slugged a mere .365 with a .100 ISO across 438 plate appearances in 2019 at Double-A Birmingham.
The White Sox optioned Rutherford to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday, Lamond Pope of the Chicago Tribune reports. He hit .154 (2-for-13) with a double, a walk and a run scored while in major-league camp. Rutherford spent the offseason bulking up, presumably in response to criticism about his lack of power. The White Sox remain supportive of Rutherford, a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2017. He hit .265/.319/.365 with seven home runs over 480 plate appearances for the Barons in 2019. As a player that profiles as a corner outfielder, those numbers won't get him to the big leagues.
Rutherford gained 12 pounds of muscle over the offseason, Scott Merkin of MLB.com reports. Rutherford is up to 212 pounds and spoke to the media about the importance of maintaining the positive weight throughout the season. General manager Rich Hahn added that he believes Rutherford built muscle in response to criticism from others over his lack of power in the minor leagues, though Hahn stated that wasn't a concern of the club. Rutherford spent the entirety of the 2019 campaign at Double-A Birmingham, where he hit .265/.319/.365 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases.
Rutherford was added to the White Sox's 40-man roster Wednesday, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. Rutherford progressed to Double-A Birmingham in 2019, where he hit .265/.319/.365 with seven home runs and 49 RBI over 118 games. He appeared in big-league spring training prior to the season, but he still likely has some time before he makes his major-league debut. His addition to the 40-man roster protects him from the Rule 5 draft.
Rutherford went 4-for-5 with two RBI for Double-A Birmingham in its 7-5 win over Chattanooga. Rutherford has collected nine hits -- eight singles and one double -- across the last three games, lifting his season average 20 points in the process. Even after the surge, Rutherford's line still sits at a punchless .253/.293/.345 across 242 plate appearances. The 22-year-old's lack of power in particular puts a cap on his fantasy appeal, especially since he'll likely be limited to a corner-outfield role once he arrives in the majors.