It’s rare to find a prospect in the MLB Draft unanimously ranked above everyone else, but that’s where we are with Adley Rutschman. The Oregon State catcher is having an unbelieve season in the collegiate ranks and is widely projected to be the first player selected in the upcoming draft. Rutschman first put himself on the map when he recorded a .408/.505/.628 stat line in 2018 but solidified himself as the top prospect in 2019 when he posted an even better .419/.580/.765 slash line against Division One talent.
Adley Rutschman 2019 MLB Draft Profile
This isn’t Rutschman’s first go with the MLB Draft, as he was selected in the 40th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He likely would have been selected earlier than this, but the then-Senior had already committed to the collegiate ranks. Suffice to say, that was a wise decision.
MLB Pipeline gives Rutschman an overall grade of 60, so it’s hard to even know where to begin with his strengths. Rutschman can do just about everything at a high level. As evidenced by his slash lines in 2018 and 2019, Rutschman knows how to swing the bat. He can hit for average and power and college pitchers haven’t found a weak part in his swing. He also has phenomenal plate discipline, as he’s recorded 73 walks to just 37 strikeouts as a Junior.
On top of that, he’s not too shabby as a defender. He’s a plus fielder with the glove, capable of making stops in the dirt, framing pitches, and doing everything else a catcher needs to do on a game-by-game basis. As if that wasn’t enough, Rutschman has a cannon of an arm and regularly mows down any baserunners who try to steal.
Rutschman is a switch-hitter, which obviously helps his MLB potential. Division One Baseball doesn’t track his lefty/righty splits, but all reports indicate he’s a natural from both sides of the plate. While his lefty swing is a little prettier than his righty swing, both have MLB potential and he should carry his switch-hitting prowess to the major leagues.
MLB Pipeline gives Rutschman a below-average grade for his speed, but he’s a catcher. Nobody selects a catcher hoping they develop into a 30-steal type of player. You can easily live with subpar baserunning when Rutschman gives everything else you could ever want in a prospect.
This is nitpicking, but the only flaw against Rutschman is that he doesn’t have a long history of home run power. Rutschman hit 17 home run in 179 at-bats during 2019, which is obviously a good rate. However, in his previous two collegiate seasons, Rutschman hit just 11 home runs in 459 at-bats. It’s perfectly natural for a collegiate prospect to gain power over time, but there’s a very real chance that 2019’s success was a one-year fluke.
Last Word on Adley Rutschman
Barring a miracle, Adley Rutschman will be the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. The Oregon State catcher can do just about everything at a high level and is the unquestioned best prospect in the draft. Rutschman can hit for power and average from both sides of the plate and has elite plate discipline. Additionally, he’s a plus fielder with a strong, MLB-caliber arm.
Rutschman isn’t the fastest player in the world, but he’s a catcher. If you’re scouting catchers for the baserunning prowess, you should probably find a new career. Rutschman’s home run acumen could be a one-year fluke, which would obviously hurt his overall ceiling. However, even if he reverts to his 2018 form, he’ll still be one of the best prospects in the entire farm system with a bright major league future.
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