The Orioles welcomed the face of their rebuild to the organization before Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Padres, introducing No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman a day after he signed a record $8.1 million signing bonus.
Rutschman, the Oregon State catcher who has won practically every award available as the nation’s top amateur, became the second player in Orioles history selected with the first overall pick earlier this month. He visited Baltimore over the weekend, signed Monday and was introduced Tuesday alongside Mike Elias, the Orioles’ first-year executive vice president/general manager who made Rutschman his first selection as a GM. His family, agents and Brandon Verley, who scouted Rutschman, were also in attendance.
Once Rutschman completes his run through the awards circuit, he’ll begin his path back to Camden Yards with the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League affiliate before moving to short-season Aberdeen. But first, he took batting practice with the Orioles and basked in what he and the club hope is his future home ballpark.
Elias’ opening statement:
“This was a big decision for our organization. We said all along this is probably the biggest decision that this organization’s gonna make this year, and we took it very seriously. I think it was a great draft class, and there were a number of players in this class that year in and year out you’d be pleased to have as options for the No. 1 pick, so even with as talented as Adley is, this was not something that we took easily as a decision, but we couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome, having him join our organization, being part of the process we’re going through to take this organization back to where it belongs. We are in a phase right now where we’re looking for building blocks, and I think that by signing Adley Rutschman today, we’ve found a very big piece.”
Rutschman’s opening statement:
“It’s exciting to be here. First off, I’d just like to say thank you to the entire Baltimore Orioles staff for their hospitality over the last couple of days, for providing my family and I with a great experience here in Baltimore. It’s a truly beautiful city, and I’m very excited to be here. I’d also like to say thank you to my family, my representative staff here. I wouldn’t be here without them. It’s been a long journey to get here and to live out this dream and have the opportunity I have here today, so thanks to my family. They’ve been at the ballpark probably more than anyone here. I had the opportunity yesterday to walk around the stadium, meet some of the fans. It’s a special thing here. It’s a special history, and just to be a part of that and a part of the building process that’s going on right now, I’m truly humbled.”
Rutschman on the excitement surrounding his signing:
“It is very exciting. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of a system at Oregon State that was kind of similar to this one, and the fans are very close to everyone, and everyone’s very excited about this, and so am I. I think that motivates me, as well.”
Elias on Rutschman’s next steps:
“He’s won a lot of awards this summer for his accomplishments in college, and he’s got a few more still, so we’d like him to participate in some of those. That’s gonna happen later this week, and then we’re gonna send him to our spring training facility in Sarasota, Florida, join the Gulf Coast League roster, kind of a slow onboarding process, get him going after the layoff he’s had, and then I expect that he will shortly thereafter join the Aberdeen IronBirds of the New York Penn League and start his climb through our minor league ladder.”
Rutschman on the pressures of being a No. 1 pick:
“I feel like there was a lot of pressure coming into the draft, also, this year. Just with the being projected as the No. 1 overall pick from the start of the season. I’ve had talks about that with my family. I think I was able to handle the pressure pretty well this year. It’s basically about sticking to your process and trying to be the best baseball player you can be.”
Rutschman on his love of catching:
“It started with my dad. He was a catcher back in the day, believe it or not. I think it’s a big part of me, just from the standpoint of the control you have behind the plate, the ability to affect so many individuals around you, handle a pitching staff, being able to command the field. For me, that’s a position I enjoy because I’m able to have that influence on others and be a hopeful leader on the team.”
Elias on how much catching Rutschman will do this summer:
“I think we’ll see as the summer goes. He’s definitely going to catch. He’s not going to catch every single day of the week. Nobody does in minor league baseball. I think one consideration is we feel that his defense is fairly polished, so we don’t know that he needs to log a ton of development innings in the catcher position. The at-bats are gonna be probably more important for his minor league development, but certainly we want to keep him catching and get him some experience catching in pro ball and pitchers that he hasn’t worked with and pro pitchers and pitchers from Latin America, so there’s a lot that goes into that. … He will be catching some, but it will probably be more part time this summer.
“I think we’ll use lineup spots however we can, so if it’s DH or first base. He’s done that in college, too, on days that he’s not catching, so that won’t be anything abnormal for him, so I think we’ll see him in a number of positions.”
Elias on the importance of signing Rutschman for the Orioles’ rebuild:
“It’s huge. We’re trying to bring in talent from every direction possible. Obviously, having a No. 1 pick in the draft is a special opportunity to do that. I think the important thing for us is that this doesn’t start and end here. We’ve signed another 29 draft picks so far. We’re gonna be signing a few more, and I think it’s a really good draft class on the whole. We’ve got the international signing period about to open up. We’ve got all kinds of avenues for taking our system and our organization where we want it to go. To have a player of his caliber that I think is not necessarily available every year in the draft is big for us, so we’re excited to get him going, but he’s one part of this effort.”
Rutschman on whether he’ll make any special purchases:
“I’m pretty comfortable with my Honda Civic.”