Even before he met with local reporters and went through his first press conference at Camden Yards, catcher Adley Rutschman met some Orioles fans. That happened when he was walking around Camden Yards after officially signing with the team on Monday.
“They’re just excited,” he said of his interaction. “You can see how supportive they are and how close-knit it is here. It kind of reminds me of Oregon State, and that’s exciting.”
Rutschman had his introductory press conference Tuesday. Gunnar Henderson will have his today at Oriole Park. The player taken No. 42 overall by the Orioles in round two of the June draft, Henderson officially signed last night. It was announced during the Orioles 8-3 loss to the Padres at Camden Yards.
According to Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com, Henderson signed for an overslot bonus of $2.3 million. The Orioles only remaining unsigned pick among the top 10 rounds is center fielder Zach Watson, their third round-pick from LSU.
Henderson was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Mr. Baseball for 2019, as well as Alabama Gatorade State Player of the Year, after hitting .559/.641/1.225 (57-for-102) with 17 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs, 69 runs, 75 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 32 games for John T. Morgan Academy in Selma, Ala. The O’s have signed 31 of their 41 draft picks.
As for Rutschman, along with his big talent - he’s a switch-hitter who hits for average and power from both sides and is a top defensive catcher - the Orioles love the enthusiasm he brings to the field. He’s always energetic and engaged with his pitchers.
O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias wants that to continue.
“Yeah, there is a leadership component to that position, and there is an energy level that affects the rest of the club. Certainly, any of us that have watched him, he’s demonstrated that. In general, his makeup, the way he goes about his work, the way he goes about playing the game, the way he competes and focuses pitch to pitch - whether he is catching or not - is a big plus. It’s a big part of his overall package,” Elias said.
The agent speaks: Dan Horwits is a senior partner of Beverly Hills Sports Council, which represents Rutschman. The organization is one of the biggest and most prominent agencies in Major League Baseball.
Horwits yesterday was beaming about and pretty proud of his client.
“He’s a very special person,” he said of Rutschman. “Obviously, his talent speaks for itself, but just as a guy. The leadership qualities he brings. The type of pressure he was under and how he handled it. Really, it’s been my honor to work for him. Really special.”
Horwits provided his take on the pressures that will now face Rutschman with his pro career getting underway.
“The guy is a No. 1 pick. A catcher and one of the cornerstone pieces, hopefully, of a rebuilding franchise,” Horwits said. “That’s a lot of pressure to come into pro ball with. But I have confidence that is a kid who can handle it.
“He has the gene that I like all my players over the past 30 years to have: The successful ones are the ones that can stay even keel. Don’t get too high when it’s good or too low when it’s bad. He could go 0-for-4 and be mad at himself, but he’ll find something he did well catching. He goes 4-for-4 and he’ll be on himself for something. He’s able to stay even keel, a big part of his success.”
Horwits said that, from his standpoint, the business part went smoothly with the Orioles and Elias. And his client got a record signing bonus of $8.1 million.
“You always have various paths to go down and fix issues and problems that might arise, but for the most part, both sides were very open about the process from the get-go. I think that helped the process,” Horwits said. “Mike and I have worked before together. We’re both fair guys, and the result is a record, but a well-deserved record. That is nice for Adley, a player that comes out with that many accolades, and it was a well-deserved record for him.”
Some notes from the farm last night
* Left-hander Zac Lowther improved to 8-4 with a 2.03 ERA in Double-A Bowie’s win over Hartford, 7-2. He gave up two runs over six innings. Then Hunter Harvey threw three scoreless to pick up his first professional save. In three relief appearances, Harvey has thrown nine scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with 11 strikeouts. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz hit a three-run homer for the Baysox. He has five homers his last 10 games and 21 RBIs his past 16.
* Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez pitched Single-A Delmarva past Lakewood 5-0. That is the Shorebirds’ third shutout in the past five games and 11th on the year. Rodriguez, who allowed one hit in five innings, is 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA.
* Outfielder DJ Stewart played in a Gulf Coast League game on rehab, and homered as the GCL Orioles beat the Braves, 9-4 to improve to 2-0.
Great ovation for Machado: The Orioles’ fans showed their class again last night with a wonderful standing ovation for Manny Machado when he batted in the first for San Diego.
Machado told reporters after the game: “The fans gave me a standing O. It tells you everything about the fan base here. It was awesome. I came back and, like always, the fans did not disappoint. It was good to come back home. I didn’t know what to expect. They go above and beyond. It was truly something special that I’ll never forget. It was just amazing.”