Adley Rutschman is going to catch DL Hall tonight in Double-A Bowie’s opener in Altoona, Pa. He’s going to catch a lot of guys. He’s the starter and he’s lauded throughout the industry for his arm, defensive skills and leadership.
But he won’t be limited to one position.
The Orioles want Rutschman to get some work at first base to keep his bat in the lineup while also giving him a break from the beatings sustained behind the plate.
“It’s a different thing that provides its own unique challenges, and it’s also an opportunity to get more ABs and to get more experience and, I guess, to diversify what I’m able to do on the baseball field,” he said yesterday in a Zoom call. “So it provides a good opportunity this year and I’m excited for all of it, every part.”
The kid just wants to play.
His pre-collegiate days also included appearances at third base, left field and right field, but the Orioles aren’t going to turn him into a super-utility player. Catcher, first base and designated hitter are sufficient.
“I saw him in spring training, I saw him at the alternate site, I saw him in major league spring training,” said Bowie manager Buck Britton. “A lot of times you can’t tell what a guy’s going to be until the lights go on and he’s facing consistently people in a different uniform. I know just the God-given ability he has and I think to see him take it up a notch, which I fully expect he will when those lights go on, it’s just going to be exciting. I plan on just sitting back and enjoying the show.
“Obviously, he’s not a finished product. There are things that he’s working on. There’s going to be times, probably, when he struggles a little bit, but I think it’s good for him. I think every prospect should go through a little bit of trial in the minor leagues, because when you get to the big leagues it’s not easy, and a lot of times if that’s the first time you do fail, it can be tough up there. So I think the trials are going to be good, I think he’s going to learn a ton.
“I’m excited to write his name in the lineup every day and hopefully slap his hand around third base every time he hits a three-run homer for me.”
Britton confirmed Hall’s assignment yesterday, adding that the young left-hander was “dominant” in spring training. He’s waiting to announce the rest of the rotation and piggyback plans with eight starters on the roster.
“(Rutschman) makes average pitchers look really good,” Hall said. “That’s a huge thing to have somebody back there that makes you really comfortable on the mound and gives you confidence just with his body language. It’s been great getting to work with him and I’m excited to have him behind the plate for me this year.”
Orioles 2016 first-round pick Cody Sedlock is in the starting mix, though he occasionally could enter games later. He wasn’t invited to the alternate site or fall instructional camps last year and is waiting to debut in Triple-A.
“Sedlock’s a starter and he’s going to pitch multiple innings,” Britton said. “Whether it’s the front end of a tandem or the back end, it may rotate, but he’s definitely a guy who’s going to throw a lot of innings for us. That goes for (Gray) Fenter, that goes for (Kyle) Bradish, that goes for (Brenan) Hanifee, (Kevin) Smith, Sedlock, (Ofelky) Peralta.
“You’re going to kind of see it mixing and matching, but all of those guys are going to throw bulk innings for us.”
Asked about other starters who impressed him besides Hall, Rutschman said, “It’s really tough to single out too many guys in our rotation because all of them just have immense potential and all of them are just so different in the way that they attack hitters and go about their game.
“We have a lot of really good pitchers who are exciting individuals who I think you’re going to be able to see over the course of the season progress and continue to grow and continue to provide a bright future and hope that we have moving forward. A lot of things to see this year, a lot of exciting stuff to happen as far as the pitching side goes.”
Bruce Zimmermann is headed back down to the minors after the Orioles optioned him last night, though the exact assignment is a bit confusing.
The announcement said Zimmermann was optioned to the alternate site, but does it exist with minor league games beginning?
And if a tree falls in the forest ...
Anyway, Zimmermann is removed from the active roster and given a reset after raising his ERA to 5.40 and failing to complete five innings in his last three starts.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Orioles don’t need five starters right away because they’re off Thursday. They can manage Zimmermann’s innings, as they did with Dean Kremer, and fortify the bullpen by recalling Isaac Mattson.
Get used to it. This is one method for easing young pitchers into a heavier workload.
Zimmermann could be back as soon he’s eligible unless the Orioles decide to give someone else a shot and plug him into Norfolk’s rotation.