The Baltimore Orioles are in Year 5 of what could have been a three or four-year rebuilding program, and they probably have two seasons to go before they scare any of the American League East contenders. But at least now they have the man to rebuild around: Adley Rutschman.
The Orioles made the much-anticipated call-up of their projected franchise cornerstone entering the weekend and had some fun doing so.
Baltimore Orioles fans have been waiting for Adley Rutschman
The Baltimore Orioles won the right to draft Adley Rutschman by losing everything in sight in 2018. The team lost 115 of 162 contests and finished 26 games behind the fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays, themselves 35 games behind the Boston Red Sox.
The 2019 MLB Draft could not arrive soon enough for the Orioles, who used the No. 1 overall pick on Rutschamn, the highly regarded catcher at Oregon State. Others picked behind him made it to the major leagues sooner, but Baltimore’s front office saw no need to rush their prized prospect to the big club, which went a dismal 131-253 (.341) over the past three seasons.
The 2022 edition of the Orioles isn’t much better, entering the weekend 16-24 (.400), but general manager Mike Elias made the decision that it’s time to get a look at a player that various publications have continued to rank at or near the top of the prospects list since his first at-bat in rookie ball.
He is likely to see his first action Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Adley Rutschman learned of his promotion in cool fashion
The first taste of major-league baseball is understandably unforgettable for players who’ve often been playing the sport for 15 years or more in hopes of getting “The Call.”
How players learn they’re being promoted varies from team to team and situation to situation. Sometimes, the manager of the organization’s Triple-A club will replace a player mid-game upon being advised of the call-up. It ensures there isn’t an ill-timed injury, and it’s generally a dead giveaway to everyone in the dugout.
Other times, the message reaches the manager immediately after a game, allowing him to announce it in the clubhouse before the players head for the buffet table.
In the case of new Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, someone with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides organization placed a hidden camera in manager Buck Britton’s tiny clubhouse office. With the tape rolling, Britton brings Rutschman into his office for a seemingly routine chat.
Rutschman’s start to the year was slowed by a minor injury, so he began rounding into form with stints in the lower minors and then back to Norfolk, where he spent a chunk of the 2021 season. The Orioles obviously liked what they saw, and Britton sat his catcher down to say how pleased he was with his progress.
The manager reinforced that Rutschman was doing everything he needed to do to succeed, “especially when you’re going to Camden Yards and you’re going to play in the big leagues for the first time.”
At that point, several teammates burst into the office and begin a raucous celebration.
What can the Orioles expect for the remainder of the season?
The Baltimore Orioles reached the quarter pole of the 2022 MLB season in last place in the AL East, 13.5 games behind the New York Yankees, who own the best record in baseball. Adley Rutschman isn’t going to turn the franchise around by himself, but the Orioles do project him as an integral part of their future.
Getting him big-league at-bats as a 24-year-old will accelerate his progress. Even hitting .250 and flashing some power would build confidence for the player and the team.
The Baltimore Sun points out that top pitching prospect Kyle Bradish is already on the roster, and Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, first-round picks in their own right, should be pitching in Baltimore soon. By this time in 2023, Rutschman will be a veteran relative to several pitchers he’ll be handling.
If he can log 400 plate appearances this year while splitting time behind the plate and at first base, Rutschman can begin making his mark as the face of the franchise next spring.