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After batting practice blast, Orioles top prospect Adley Rutschman brings patience, quips to MLB All-Star Futures Game

Orioles top prospect Adley Rutschman showed off his power during batting practice before Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field. He seemed disappointed to not have the opportunity to do so in the game itself.

Rutschman, the No. 2 prospect in the sport according to Baseball America, served as the American League’s starting catcher and cleanup hitter in a contest that highlights the budding talent in each organization. Right-handed reliever Marcos Diplán, Baltimore’s other representative, struck out the first batter he faced before surrendering two home runs as the National League prospects won, 8-3.

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Before the game, the switching-hitting Rutschman unloaded from the left side on a ball that traveled a projected 468 feet, according to Statcast. The Orioles’ longest in-game home run in the majors this year was Trey Mancini’s 451-foot shot July 2 against the Los Angeles Angels, while only two home runs have been hit farther at Coors Field this season.

In his first at-bat, facing Miami Marlins No. 3 prospect Max Meyer, Rutschman took a 95 mph fastball just below the zone before popping up an inside cutter to left. Wearing a microphone on the MLB Network broadcast, he bemoaned not doing more with the pitch.

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“Gotta be on time for that,” he said as he returned to the dugout.

Rutschman often has been with Double-A Bowie. The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick has a batting line of .283/.413/.507 for the Baysox with 12 home runs and more walks than strikeouts.

Rutschman, 23, put that plate discipline on display his second time up, taking three pitches below the zone from Quinn Priester, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ No. 4 prospect, before passing on a pitch just outside for a four-pitch walk. But he wanted to swing.

“I was hacking there,” he told first base coach Rachel Balkovec.

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He echoed that point with first baseman and Colorado Rockies prospect Michael Toglia, who said he could tell Rutschman was hoping to go after the 3-0 pitch.

“Oh, I was, absolutely,” Rutschman admitted. “I was looking to pull 3-0.”

Orioles catching prospect Adley Rutschman, pictured during a Bowie Baysox game on June 15, served as the American League’s starting catcher and cleanup hitter in the MLB All-Star Futures Game Sunday afternoon in Denver.
Orioles catching prospect Adley Rutschman, pictured during a Bowie Baysox game on June 15, served as the American League’s starting catcher and cleanup hitter in the MLB All-Star Futures Game Sunday afternoon in Denver. (Kenneth K. Lam)

He considered putting his speed in the spotlight, as well. After a ball bounced in the dirt, Toglia told Rutschman he “won’t take a bag.”

“If that’s in-season,” Rutschman said, “I’m going on that.”

Rutschman has only one steal in three tries on the year, with speed perhaps the only aspect of his game on either side of the ball that hasn’t stood out since the Orioles drafted him. He hustled to second on a groundball and was forced out at second, and with Cleveland prospect Bo Naylor replacing him behind the plate the next half inning, his day was over.

In the dugout, he made clear he wanted to relive his batting practice session.

“I was thinking the third deck,” he said with a laugh.

“Jack Daniels,” he added, referring to the sponsored name for the terrace on the highest level of Coors Field’s right-field stands.

His closest chance came with his batting practice blast. Orioles fans can hope it won’t long before he gets the chance to bring his power to Baltimore’s lineup every day, but with the major league team struggling through another losing season and Rutschman yet to play at Triple-A, it seems unlikely that comes this year. He knows they’re waiting for his arrival, though.

“It’s inspiring, just to see people have your back,” Rutschman told MLB Network during the game. “It’s everything you dream of as a kid.”

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