When the Orioles announced their first batch of draft signings during their previous homestand, first-year executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias noted many of the team’s “big fish” remained unsigned.
He seems to be getting close to locking up the two biggest.
No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman has signed with the Orioles, the team announced via Twitter on Monday night. The Orioles posted pictures of Rutschman shaking hands with Elias, as well as Rutschman signing his contract. A switch-hitting catcher who throws right-handed, Rutschman signed left-handed.
Rutschman, the Oregon State catcher who secured a bevy of awards as the nation’s top amateur this season, received an MLB-record $8.1 million signing bonus, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis. Gerrit Cole, the 2011 No. 1 pick, received an $8 million bonus before the modern slot system was put into use; as the No. 1 pick, Rutschman has a slot value of about $8.42 million.
The Orioles will introduce Rutschman before Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Padres with a press conference and in-game introduction. The contest also marks former Orioles infielder Manny Machado’s first game at Camden Yards as a visitor.
Rutschman, the second No. 1 overall pick in Orioles history, was the College World Series Most Outstanding Player last season for a Beavers team that won the national title. He followed that by hitting .411/.575/.751 as a junior to earn the Golden Spikes Award and Dick Howser Trophy, among many other honors to reflect his status as college baseball’s top player in 2019.
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“He’s always the same no matter who’s watching,” Orioles interim amateur scouting director Brad Ciolek told The Baltimore Sun after the draft. “I had the opportunity to see him warm up and catch in bullpens this year, and it doesn’t matter who’s around him. He’s always the same. He’s always kind of a cheerleader, whether he’s warming a guy up in the bullpen or running through infield-outfield drills. He’s just a special — you can just tell that people flock to him. He’s just a vibrant, happy, exciting guy to be around. He’s the type of guy that you want to represent your organization, in addition obviously with his skills between the lines why he’s the 1-1 pick.”
The Orioles are also close to completing a deal with second-round pick Gunnar Henderson, per Callis. Henderson, a high school infielder out of Alabama, was a first-round talent who fell to Baltimore with the first pick of the second round. An Auburn commit, Henderson has a bat that the team believes will profile at third base should he need to move off shortstop in the future.
“It's nice when people start their amateur careers up the middle,” Elias said after the draft. “It usually speaks well to just their abilities going forward, and they have some options. Gunnar Henderson is very athletic and he can run, but he's a big guy. So there exists a possibility that he grows in such a way that he moves to third, but the important thing is we think his profile still holds up at third.
“He's got plus power, and he hits well, and it's still a third base profile, but if he ends up staying at shortstop, I think that would be icing on the cake.”
Henderson’s signing bonus will be $2.3 million, per Callis, exceeding the 42nd pick’s slot value of about $1.77 million.
Should Henderson join Rutschman as Orioles signees, the Orioles will have signed 31 of their 41 draftees, with third-rounder Zach Watson, an LSU outfielder, being the highest-drafted player among those not yet signed. Six of the remaining 10 would be high schoolers taken in the 34th round or later.
Teams have until 5 p.m. July 12 to sign their draft picks.