More than six weeks after the Baltimore Orioles made him the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB draft, catcher Adley Rutschman made his professional debut Saturday afternoon. , then was slowed by mononucleosis.
Rutschman went 1 for 4 as the designated hitter for Baltimore's rookie level minor league affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. He grounded out in his first at-bat, flew out in his second at-bat, then cranked his first professional home run in his third at-bat. Here's the video:
"I was just hoping to get a couple hits today, maybe, and get back in the swing of things. But nothing beats a home run. So it was a cool feeling," Rutschman, who hadn't seen live pitching since his college season ended on June 1, told MiLB.com's Jordan Wolf. "... I couldn't keep still because I knew I was going to play today, so last night I was just bouncing all around the room. But I was excited for today, just excited to get going again. It's been a while."
The 21-year-old Rutschman authored a .427/.584/.772 batting line with 16 homers and nearly twice as many walks (69) as strikeouts (36) in 52 games with Oregon State this spring. He was arguably the best draft prospect since Bryce Harper in 2010 and undoubtedly the best catching draft prospect since Buster Posey in 2008.
Baseball America ranked Rutschman as the fifth best prospect in baseball in a recent top 100 prospects update. Here's what the publication had to say about the switch-hitting backstop:
With advanced hitting ability and power from both sides of the plate, Rutschman is a complete offensive player who also brings plus defensive ability behind the plate along with terrific leadership ability. He has the chance to be a perennial all-star sort of player.
The 2019 minor league regular season ends in approximately six weeks, though the Orioles could sent Rutschman to the Arizona Fall League for additional at-bats. Catchers typically take longer to develop than players at other positions only because there's so much responsibility, but it's not out of the question that Rutschman could reach the big leagues in 2020.