In a live interview tonight on “MASN All Access” coverage of the First-Year Player Draft, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias explained his reasons for making Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman the No. 1 pick.
“Well, just the switch-hitter (aspect). A polished college bat,” said Elias, minutes after making the selection. “The approach, the plus hit, plus power from both sides. Really, the mental makeup, I think, is a separator with him. He brings leadership qualities. And then the athleticism and the defense. It’s a total package. He’s going to have to go to the minor leagues and prove it like anyone else. You know, it was the right choice for us.
“It’s tense (in that draft room). We don’t make a decision sometimes until late the first day. The day moved quick and everything goes kind of fast. But our scouts did a good job and we put a ton of work and thought into this. I’m very happy.”
The Orioles selected Rutschman over other highly ranked players such as Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn.
In 57 games for Oregon State, which was eliminated over the weekend from the NCAA playoffs, Rutschman hit .411/.575/.751 with 10 doubles, a triple, 17 homers, 58 RBIs, 76 walks and 38 strikeouts. He threw out 13 of 26 trying to steal on him. Rutschman’s stats were even better than during his 2018 season, which ended with him being named the Most Outstanding Player when Oregon State won the College World Series. And three position players were drafted off that OSU team among the first 37 picks in last June’s draft.
Elias feels Rutschman could be signed fairly soon.
“I think pretty quickly,” he said. “They just got knocked out, which was kind of nice for us but unfortunate for Oregon State fans. But he’ll be able to initiate the process pretty quickly. Early this summer, we’ll be able to get him out somewhere to get some at-bats. As to where, I haven’t made that determination yet.”
Elias addressed reports of an MRI with Rutschman that may have showed some concerns over his right shoulder.
“Well, I know a lot about all the players in the draft and this is stuff that we weigh,” said Elias. “That we incorporate in our decisions with our medical team which is terrific. It is something we do up and down the draft. It’s very rare that a player has a spotless record. You know we take all that into account.”
During a live interview on “MASN All Access,” Rutschman said he didn’t know the Orioles would take him until about a minute before the pick.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Rutschman. “A lot of emotion. Now it’s kind of a little sigh of relief right now. It’s been good. Being around my family and friends was very special.”
Rutschman was asked about dealing with the pressure of being a 1/1 selection.
“I think just focusing on what’s important and continuing to improve myself,” he said. “How I go about business. That is the most important thing and I think everything else will take care of itself.”
Rutschman said he looks forward to being an Oriole in the majors one day.
“It’s a deep history (in Baltimore). I’m really excited to play for them,” he said. “Camden Yards is a beautiful place and hopefully I have an opportunity to play there some day.”
In the second round: The Orioles selected a 17-year-old prep shortstop in Gunnar Henderson from Morgan Academy in Selma, Ala. He was taken No. 42 overall and the slot value for that pick is $1,771,300. Henderson is rated No. 30 by Baseball America and No. 27 by MLBPipeline.com.
Baseball America on Henderson: “The top prospect in Alabama, Henderson is a physical, 6-foot-3, 194-pound shortstop with high upside both offensively and defensively. At the plate, Henderson has the potential for an average hit tool with current above-average power that could turn into plus power down the line.”
Henderson has a college commitment to Auburn. A two-sport standout, Henderson was named the Alabama Independent School Association boys basketball Player of the Year for 2018-19 after averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game for Morgan.
With their third pick: The Orioles selected Stanford center fielder Kyle Stowers with a Competitive Balance Round B pick, which was after the second round and the No. 71 pick overall. Stowers is a lefty thrower and batter who was ranked No. 78 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 102 by Baseball America.
Stowers hit .306/.370/.519 this year with 18 doubles, a triple, eight homers and 38 RBIs. He was rated as the No. 14 prospect last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .326 with six home runs.