Adley Rutschman, MLB’s No. 1 prospect, called up to O’s

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BALTIMORE — Adley Rutschman has arrived after years of expectation and weeks of suspense.

The Orioles promoted baseball’s top overall prospect on Saturday, setting the stage for one of the most eagerly anticipated major league debuts in recent memory and a watershed moment in the team’s rebuilding efforts. Since the summer of 2020, he’s been considered one of baseball’s top two prospects, and he’s presently No. 1.

Rutschman will bat sixth and catch right-hander Kyle Bradish for the Orioles against the Rays on Saturday.

Rutschman said at Oriole Park on Saturday afternoon, “I’d say about as excited as I can be right now.” “This is definitely the coolest thing, the coolest moment I’ve ever experienced. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Rutschman was the first and most high-profile pick by Orioles GM Mike Elias in his job leading the club’s long-term development, signing for a record $8.1 million bonus in 2019. He’s now the project’s most decorated prospect to reach the Majors, the face of what’s become baseball’s best farm system under Elias. The Orioles hope that this kicks off a transition period for the rebuild that leads to more success in the major leagues.

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He might be one of several big-name Baltimore blue-chippers to reach the Majors this season, with No. 2 right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and No. 5 lefty DL Hall also being mentioned as prospective call-ups throughout the season. The Orioles already welcomed Bradish, MLB Pipeline’s No. 10 prospect, earlier this season.

Rutschman, now 24, is three years removed from becoming the consensus top player in college baseball while at Oregon State, where he led the Beavers to the 2018 national title with a College World Series record 17 hits. Rutschman then went on to hit.413/.575/.751 as a junior, with 17 home runs and twice as many walks as strikeouts.

Rutschman was a generational talent because of his output and profile: a switch-hitting catcher with outstanding on-base ability and polished defensive skills that some evaluators thought he might catch in the Majors three years ago. “It’s as comprehensive a collection of physical tools, accompanying skill to enact those tools, and makeup attributes that you’re going to find, particularly at that position,” said one competitor scout in 2021.

The Orioles are hope that it will become the team’s new face for years to come. The first day of that future was Saturday.

“I think you always look forward to this opportunity, hoping it occurs, from the minute you’re picked or from when you’re in high school,” Rutschman said. “It’s incredible that it’s finally here. I’m just trying to absorb everything.”

Manager Brandon Hyde of the Orioles said: “Mike [Elias] chose it initially, and it’s been a long process since we arrived. We’ve had many ups and downs, and we’re currently dealing with many issues. But having his first pick arrive matters a lot. When you look at the lineup today, you’ll notice a lot of young, talented players, including the pitcher. You want to believe that we’re turning a turnaround and that we’re beginning to play competitive AL East baseball with the type of players that can compete and win a division.”

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