It was just over a week ago that Double-A Bowie catcher Adley Rutschman was batting .211 with a .404 slugging percentage. But some things have changed.
After a huge doubleheader on Sunday when he homered in each game and drove in seven runs, Rutschman’s stats look a lot better and are probably about where many expected they would be.
As Bowie took a pair of games from Harrisburg, Rutschman went 5-for-6 and hit three-run homers in each game, one from either side of the plate. For 22 games, he is now batting .293/.465/.573 with three doubles, six homers, 20 RBIs and a 1.039 OPS. In his 12-team league he now ranks second in on-base percentage, with 22 walks to 20 strikeouts, is tied for second in RBIs, fourth in OPS, tied for fourth in homers and sixth in slugging.
Not bad for a player that played in just 12 games at low Single-A Delmarva in 2019 and skipped high A ball to begin this season at Double-A.
Expectations, of course, are sky high for the player taken as the overall No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft out of Oregon State. But Rutschman has learned how to deal with those, as he said this week on the “Baltimore Orioles: Inside the Yard” podcast with hosts Geoff Arnold and Brett Hollander.
“The expectations have always been there, they’re always going to be there,” Rutschman said. “And I feel like the expectations that I put on myself are always going to be more than anyone can put on me. So, I feel that makes it a little easier from that standpoint. But really, I think the Orioles minor league system right now is so process-oriented that the expectations, of course are there, but the process we have is so good and so centered on learning and getting better, I feel like the results come because of that.
“And we know that. So, the expectations, instead of being just noise and a weight down on your shoulders, it is almost like we embrace everything as an opportunity as opposed to, ‘We’ve got to get to this point.’ So having that, I think, makes for camaraderie in the dugouts and the clubhouse, and just excitement overall on everyone’s end. Everyone is just excited to come to the field every day and work to get better. When you have that kind of excitement rolling around it makes baseball fun and it makes learning and opportunities exciting.”
Rutschman has hit better at home than on the road, batting .375 with a 1.384 OPS at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie. He has a 1.022 OPS versus lefty pitching and 1.039 against right-handers and is hitting .320 when batting with runners in scoring position.
Click here to check out these week’s edition of the “Inside the Yard” podcast. As an added bonus, I was also a guest this week!
The good on-base stats continue on the farm: With the big league team’s losing streak at 14 games, it’s understandable that fans are turning to the minor leagues for some excitement. And they are providing it.
The four O’s clubs are now winning at a .663 clip at 57-33. Even Triple-A Norfolk, which is 8-15 overall, has now won five of its last six games. The other three full-season teams all have the best records in their leagues. Double-A Bowie is 17-5, high Single-A Aberdeen is 15-7 and low Single-A Delmarva is 17-6.
In fact, Bowie playing .773 ball and Delmarva at .739 have the second and third-best records in all of minor league baseball. That is out of 120 teams, with only Triple-A Nashville (18-5) topping the Baltimore affiliates, playing .783 ball.
The Baysox list right-hander Grayson Rodriguez as expected to make his Double-A debut on Wednesday at Hartford after Cameron Bishop gets the start tonight to open that series. Bowie lists Ofelky Peralta for Thursday, followed by Mike Baumann on Friday, lefty DL Hall Saturday and on Sunday, righty Gray Fenter.
The O’s Bowie, Aberdeen and Delmarva clubs continue to show impressive on-base skills.
Bowie leads its league in runs, scoring 6.3 per game, and the Baysox rank first in walks and third in on-base percentage. They have 32 homers to lead their league and rank second in rotation ERA at 3.00.
Aberdeen ranks first in OBP (.360) in the high-A East, and second in walks. The IronBirds are first with 36 stolen bases (in 49 tries) and lead the league in team ERA (3.28) while rating third in rotation ERA at 2.59.
Delmarva leads its league in runs scored at 7.6 per game, and the Shorebirds also rank first in the low-A East in batting average, OBP (.397) and walks (136), and the Shorebirds are first in home runs and OPS at .830. Delmarva is second in team ERA (3.53) and fifth in rotation ERA at 3.79.
But the Orioles lost again: The Orioles’ latest loss came in the opener of an eight-game homestand Monday afternoon, when they lost 3-2 to Minnesota in 10 innings.
The Orioles (17-37) fall to 20 games under the .500 mark.
During a stretch when they are 2-21, the Orioles are 0-9 in games decided by two runs or fewer. Their last win in such a game was on May 3, 5-3 at Seattle.
The O’s have gone eight straight games scoring four or fewer runs, for a total of 18 in the eight games. They are 5-for-64 with runners in scoring position in that span.