Rutschman lives up to billing

One of the more jarring proclamations that I hear relating to rookie catcher Adley Rutschman is how he’s only going to get better. He isn’t a finished product. He’s just scratching the surface.

He’s left indelible marks.

Rutschman is the ninth player in major league history to record at least 40 extra-base hits and 50 walks in his first 89 career games. He’s the first catcher.

That last part is a doozy.

Think about all of the great catchers who passed our way, the Hall of Famers and others with credentials that warranted inclusion. Rutschman is the first.

I wondered whether Rutschman could come close to matching the hype that enveloped him since the day he signed. It colors how some fans and media view Matt Wieters’ career. And he wasn’t a first-overall selection in the draft.

Rutschman has come as advertised, and that’s saying a lot.

His 29 doubles heading into the Red Sox series tied Hall of Famers Eddie Murray (1977) and Cal Ripken Jr. (1982) for the most by an Orioles rookie in franchise history.

“Good company,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“I thought Adley was going to hit, honestly. Just seeing him briefly the last couple years in spring training and minicamp, stuff like that, I think that you saw the upside to what he can do offensively. I think he’s just scratching the surface. He’s going to be a really good hitter in this league. He’s already shown that he can control the strike zone, he’s got power.

“He’s been a huge boost for us offensively and he's only going to get better.”

Rutschman doesn’t run every count to 3-2, but it seems that way. I noticed three in a recent game, and he had 3-2 and 3-1 counts Friday night.

The pinch-hit, tie-breaking, bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning on Sept. 2 evolved by Rutschman taking six pitches. He never swung the bat.

That kind of composure from a young player in his first major league season isn’t terribly common.

“Very unusual, extremely unusual,” said Hyde, more to the point.

“The reason why he went one-one and the reason why he’s been so highly touted for so long is because of his ability to get into good counts and to be able to spoil pitches, but also lay off tough pitches that are balls. It’s an amazing transition to the big leagues to be able to do that right away.”

And he’s just getting started.

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