The 2019 draft picks all in same lineup and Chirinos celebrates a milestone

This is kind of a special night for the Orioles’ No. 1 rated farm system. For the first time ever, the top three Baltimore draft picks from the 2019 draft – Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers – will all be in the starting lineup together for the parent club.

The trio were the first three picks by Mike Elias after he took over as the Orioles' executive vice president and general manager in the fall of 2018. The club took Rutschman with the overall No. 1 pick in June 2019, with Henderson at No. 42 and Stowers at No. 71.

At the end of last season, Rutschman and Stowers shared the Brooks Robinson Award as the Orioles' Minor League co-Players of the Year, and Henderson seems highly likely to win the honor this year.

“It’s really special,” Stowers said this afternoon in the O’s clubhouse. “Coming in together, we were the first three picks of the new front office. The coolest part to see is not only how we have grown so much as baseball players, but we all have become so close. It’s like rooting for your best friends. The fact we get to share the field together, be on a team together and chase after something so special as a playoff race, can’t beat it.”

In a clubhouse where the Orioles seem to be such a close-knit team, these three are the same way, but their friendship had origins in Sarasota, Bowie and Norfolk.

“I think the special thing about baseball is the people it brings you in contact with,” added Stowers. “The relationships you establish along the way. To have such a close-knit group, it adds humanity to the athlete, to the player. We just care about each other as people first and then, obviously, root like heck for each other on the field.

“The most pure form of baseball, you see someone hit a homer in the playoffs and you see three or four guys jumping out of the dugout on the field. It tells you, it’s not about who gets the job done, it’s about getting the job done. A pure form of baseball. It’s selfless and it’s just about winning.”

Added Rutschman: “Great that we have gotten to play together and see each other go through the same process to get to this point.”

And said Henderson: “It is really awesome. I’ve been able to come up through the minors with those guys and even spend time outside of baseball with them. Been really awesome to spend my baseball career with them and be up here with them at this level.”

Henderson has already played three different positions in three games and hit safely in each, going 5-for-12 with a .417 batting average and 1.250 OPS. He homered in his debut game at Cleveland and doubled twice in his home debut on Friday night. He became the third youngest Oriole to double twice at home after Manny Machado and Brooks Robinson.

I asked Henderson if the three players, when they were in the minors, talked about being in the same lineup in the majors.

“I felt like we all kind of knew it passively," he replied. "Didn’t really talk about it because we knew we had to do the work. And if we did our work each day, ultimately it might happen. And we are very fortunate it’s happening now.

“They are probably my best friends. So having those guys here is awesome and special. I have the comfortability to go ask them any questions. Blessed to have them up here.”

Ten years for Chirinos: What a milestone achieved today by Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos. He reached 10 years of major league service time to become fully vested in the MLB Players Association. And it just adds to the large amount of respect that Chirinos gets within his own clubhouse and from players around the game.

This is a player who played his first pro season in 2001 as an infielder. And he didn’t reach the majors for the first time until 2011. Now he has his 10 years. Special.

“So blessed to able to be able to achieve this,” the 38-year-old Chirinos said today. “It is really hard for a player to get 10 years. For a guy that played 10 years in the minors to get 10 years in the majors, I don’t think many thought I could achieve that. But God had a different plan. My family, my wife and my kids, and everybody who has been with me the whole time, we have definitely something to celebrate today.”

Manager Brandon Hyde had majors props today for Chirinos.

“That is an awesome, awesome accomplishment for a major league player," Hyde said. "Congratulations to Robbie. That is a huge deal to players to get that milestone. We’re going to celebrate that with him today.

“I had talked to people about what kind of teammate and person he was. But he has exceeded those lofty expectations in how much he has impacted our team, our clubhouse, our dugout. He makes players around him better. He’s made our whole clubhouse better. He’s helped changed the culture of our team. And I can’t thank him enough for that.”  

 

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