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The Road to The Show™: Adley Rutschman

No. 4 overall prospect riding the fast lane to Baltimore
Adley Rutschman was the first catcher taken with the No. 1 overall pick since the Twins selected Joe Mauer in 2001. (Joy R. Absalon/
May 25, 2020

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken to reach the brink of realizing his Major League dream. Here's a look at Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman:

Each week, profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken to reach the brink of realizing his Major League dream. Here's a look at Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman:

The most highly touted catching prospect since Joe Mauer, it's no surprise Adley Rutschman has been in the express lane to The Show since being selected with the top overall pick in the 2019 Draft. Fittingly, Mauer is the only other catcher to have been drafted first overall in the past 40 years. The top Orioles prospect ascended through three levels of the Minor Leagues during his only professional campaign, then received an invitation to big league camp this spring. He appeared in seven Grapefruit League games and collected a hit and a walk before being assigned to the backfields.

Baltimore’s selection of the switch-hitting backstop was no surprise as it came on the heels of a dynamic college career at Oregon State, where the 22-year-old posted numbers more likely to be found in a video game than the back of a baseball card.

After a solid freshman season in which Rutschman batted .234 with two homers, a triple, seven doubles and 33 RBIs in 61 games -- an effort that landed him honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference honors and a spot on the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament team -- he elevated his game the following year.

As a sophomore, Rutschman posted an eye-popping .408/.505/.628 slash line with nine dingers, three triples and 22 doubles while setting single-season school records with 83 RBIs and 102 hits in 67 games. His .408 average ranked third in Beavers history and he scored 56 times.

After finishing as a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award following the regular season, Rutschman led Oregon State to its third College World Series championship. The 6-foot-2, 216-pounder finished the tournament with 17 hits, including a three-knock effort with a pair of RBIs in the title-clinching victory over Arkansas. He was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player.

Shortly after that, Rutschman joined the Collegiate National Team. He appeared in nine games for USA Baseball -- five starts behind the dish and three as a designated hitter -- and hit .355/.432/.516, leading the team in all three categories. He also drove in a pair of runs, scored twice and topped the squad with five doubles. He finished second on the team with four multi-hit efforts and was named MVP of the 42nd USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Series after batting .333 with three doubles in the series. Oh, the Sherwood, Oregon, native also threw out a pair of would-be basestealers.

And when the trophy case appeared to be reaching capacity, Rutschman returned to school for his junior season and outdid himself. The switch-hitter posted a .411/.575/.751 slash line with 17 long balls, a triple, 10 doubles, 58 RBIs and 57 runs scored in 57 games. His .411 mark led the conference and was tied for second in Oregon State history. He also set the Beavers' single-season record -- and led all of Division I baseball -- with 76 walks. That was followed by a clean sweep of awards given to position players: the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and Buster Posey Award.

2019 (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Class A Short Season Aberdeen, Class A Delmarva)

After a bout with mononucleosis delayed the start of his rookie professional season,’s No. 4 overall prospect moved quickly and often. Rutschman immediately made his impact felt as he homered in his first Minor League game on July 20 with the GCL Orioles.

A week later, he was promoted to the New York-Penn League. In 20 games with the IronBirds, Rutschman sported a .325/.413/.481 slash line with a homer, a triple, seven doubles, 15 RBIs and 11 runs scored. His advanced strike-zone awareness was on display as he drew 12 walks. He also was part of the battery that combined on the first no-hitter in Aberdeen history on Aug. 12 in Vermont.

"He's quiet back there as far as receiving. I think he got some calls that way on some borderline pitches,” IronBirds manager Kevin Bradshaw said after that game. “He did a great job reading swings. He knew what the pitchers had working for them and kept going to it."

Rutschman finished his stint with Aberdeen on a 10-game hitting streak. After going 5-for-5 with a homer, a triple and four RBIs on Aug. 19, he was promoted to the South Atlantic League the following day.

"He is locked in every single day," then-Aberdeen hitting coach Thomas Eller said. "He's got an older guy's approach as far as what he's looking to do and what he's trying to do. And he really doesn't get a lot of pitches to hit, it's just a matter of him having that great strike-zone awareness to get his pitch and drive it."

Rutschman finished the year with Delmarva, where he collected six hits, six walks and eight RBIs in 12 games. In the Shorebirds' regular-season finale, he went 2-for-4 with a two-run tater.

The backstop has four potentially plus skills in his hit, power, arm and fielding tools. Rutschman threw out seven of 11 attempted basestealers in his rookie season and has built a reputation as an elite pitch framer. Rutschman is already known for some big moments that include the national title at Oregon State and the longest field goal kicked in an Oregon high-school football game, and there's hope that he could create some more by the time he reaches Baltimore. He was expected to open 2020 with Class A Advanced Frederick when baseball camps shut down in March.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.