The annual Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft opens on Monday, June 3, and there is one player who appears destined to be taken with the number one pick, which belongs to the Baltimore Orioles — if the Orioles decide that they want him, as MLB draft expert Keith Law of ESPN.com reports. That player is 21-year-old Adley Rutschman, a switch-hitting catcher who currently plays college baseball for the Origins State University Beavers.
On Thursday, Rutschman was named National Collegiate Player of the Year, according to 24/7 Sports. The award capped off a season in which he also won Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
But while the National Player of the Year Award winner is generally selected in the first round, only one of the most recent five award recipients currently has a regular spot with a Major League team. That would be Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox, as The Inquisitr reported, who was called up the club in 2016, a year after winning an award and being selected seventh overall in the 2015 draft.
But according to baseball experts, Rutschman — a junior at OSU and native of Sherwood, Oregon — appears destined to be the highest draft pick of any Players of the Year award winner since 2013, when the Chicago Cubs picked Kris Bryant second overall.
Standing six-feet, two-inches with a listed weight of 216, according to OSUBeavers.com, Rutschman batted.411 with 17 home runs and 58 RBIs in the Beavers’ 57-game spring season.
CBS Sports describes Rutschman as “a switch-hitting catcher with power and strong defensive chops” and “the odds-on favorite to go first overall.”
Rutschman also set an OSU record with 76 walks in the 2019 season, including 26 intentional walks, according to Oregon Live. In fact, Rutschman was so feared that in a recent regional playoff game, the opposing pitcher issued him an intentional walk with the bases loaded, preferring to give up one run rather than risk a Rutschman grand slam.
But according to Law, despite being the “consensus” top prospect in the 2019 draft, Rutschman is “not a lock” to go to the Orioles with the top overall pick. Instead, the Orioles may opt for Andrew Vaughan, the University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughan, who was described by Baseball America as “perhaps the best pure hitter in the draft class” who couples his technical hitting skills with “raw power” and “premium plate discipline.”
If the Orioles pass on selecting Rutschman, according to Law, the catcher is likely to go third in the draft to the Chicago White Sox.