Catcher Adley Rutschman’s work at Double-A is done.
The Orioles are promoting Rutschman to Triple-A Norfolk, according to a source. His final game with the Bowie Baysox unfolded earlier today when he started behind the plate in Somerset and went 0-for-3 in a 7-0 loss to the Patriots, who registered a combined no-hitter.
Luis Severino, with Somerset on an injury rehab assignment, tossed four perfect innings.
Rutschman appeared in 80 games in his first season with Bowie and batted .271/.392/.508 with 16 doubles, 18 home runs, 55 RBIs, 55 walks and 57 strikeouts. He cooled a bit later in the summer, going 7-for-27 (.259) this month but also collecting two doubles and two home runs in seven games.
With the graduation of Tampa Bay shortstop Wander Franco, Rutschman already received one bump this weekend by achieving status as baseball’s No. 1 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
The Orioles made Rutschman, 23, the top overall selection in the 2019 draft out of Oregon State University. He played at three levels that summer, joining Single-A Delmarva’s roster for the South Atlantic League playoffs.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, which left Rutschman to continue his development at the alternate camp site and fall instructional camp. His skipped the high Single-A level this year and immediately was on the clock as fans and the industry awaited his move to Norfolk.
The Tides mainly have been using Brett Cumberland as their catcher, especially after the Orioles designated Chance Sisco for assignment following his demotion and placed Nick Ciuffo on the 60-day injured list. Cumberland was in the lineup today for both games of the doubleheader in Jacksonville.
Everyone can step aside for Rutschman, whose defense and other attributes behind the plate already are viewed as ready for the majors. He’s thrown out 20 of 57 runners attempting to steal in two seasons.
Rutschman also has made 20 starts at first base this year to gain more experience at the position and keep his bat in the lineup.
“He’s certainly had a very successful season thus far in Double-A on both sides of ball. It’s been great to see,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said on July 30.
“I don’t think he would tell you that he is, but he’s not a fully finished product or polished player. All these kids missed a whole year last year. His control of the strike zone has been outstanding, but he’s doing a lot of work with Ryan Fuller, our hitting coach, and Jeff Kunkel, our catching coach there, and just every day, getting better and perfecting things about his swing and his consistency, his mechanics and his approach. He’s also working with the pitching staff there, and they’ve got a really good thing going on, so we do not feel like he’s wasting his time or not getting anything out of Bowie despite the success that he’s had thus far, and we’re also mindful of the fact that the Triple-A season is going to be a long one this year.
“There’s a lot of time left on that season. It goes into October with the way that it’s currently scheduled and structured because of the pandemic. So, when it becomes the correct thing with his development, we’ll make that move. It’s certainly something that we’re talking about organizationally and something we want to get right.”
The Orioles have given no indication that they’d consider Rutschman for their roster this year, and the uncertainty over the 2022 season based on the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 1 and long-standing friction between ownership and the union could further influence that decision. They’d also seem hesitant to begin his service clock.
In the meantime, Rutschman is set to join the Tides for a six-game home series against Memphis that begins Tuesday night.
The team is promoting “Turn Back the Clock Night” at Harbor Park. Rutschman is spinning it more toward the future with his arrival.