When he gets here, Rutschman's biggest foe may be expectations

When catcher Adley Rutschman got rated as baseball's No. 2 prospect this week by Baseball America, he achieved a ranking that only three other Orioles reached since the publication's first top 100 poll in 1990. Manny Machado never got to No. 2. He never even made the top 10 with rankings of No. 14 in 2011 and No. 11 in 2012.

Rutschman joined Matt Wieters, the only Oriole to garner the No. 1 spot in the initial Baseball America poll release of each of the last 32 years. Wieters was ranked No. 1 in 2009, moving up from No. 12 the previous year. Ben McDonald was No. 2 in 1990 and so was Dylan Bundy in 2013.

Those four join only three other Orioles to be ranked in the top five in the initial release each year by Baseball America. Arthur Rhodes was No. 5 in 1992, Jeffrey Hammonds No. 3 in 1994 and Brian Matusz was No. 5 in 2010.

Rutschman-Gear-Delmarva-sidebar.jpgRanking Rutschman No. 2 won't ever help him get a hit or throw out a runner. It is just further confirmation that he was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft for a reason - many of them, actually. He projects as a plus talent on offense and defense, and nothing that has happened since his draft day has given anyone a reason to change that opinion.

Rutschman gets not one or two, but three 70 tool grades from Baseball America on the 20-80 scale. He gets 70 grades for his hit tool and power tool and also for his arm. He gets a 60 grade for his fielding and a 40 for his running and speed. So he's not perfect.

Baseball America wrote this outstanding piece (subscription may be required) with further explanation of the tool grades recently. They tried to further explain a 70 grade this way: Plus-Plus. Among the best tools in the game, such as Corey Seager's arm, Patrick Corbin's slider or Francisco Lindor's defense.

When Rutschman gets to the majors for good the expectations - those are already sky high - will not diminish. All that is expected of him is greatness, All-Star appearances, Gold Gloves, MVP awards and outstanding and consistent performance. If the Orioles can win a World Series or two with him as catcher, better yet.

Much to his credit, Rutschman seems like he might be able to actually manage such expectations. He has pointed out, as have others, the enormous expectations he faced as an Oregon State junior when he was projected to be the No. 1 pick.

While baseball now has all kinds of data and technology to help players and they probably take care of their bodies as well as any group of players ever, there is no handbook for handling pressure and expectations.

Perhaps a few things will happen between now and then to help Rutschman. One would be the Orioles becoming a better team - a club on the way to becoming really good that he will join. Also, if their improving lineup with young talent can keep getting better, then Rutschman can join and be just another key player and not the key player.

He's yet to even play above Low-A ball, but he impressed the Orioles with his play last summer at the Bowie alternate site. The term "the real deal" is probably another we should do away with, but he's already heard that he is that many times over.

Rutschman's talent is a reason for O's fans to be very excited for the future. He's achieved an elite ranking from Baseball America. Now comes the hardest part - living up to that.

Kline explains his reasons for retiring
Thurman runs down Nats young outfield prospects

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/