For reference, J.T. That's a keeper. Both Randy and his father, Ad, played baseball and Adley took up the sport at the same position his father played: catcher. “It doesn't really matter as far as the ego standpoint goes.”, “I think he wants to be in a situation where he's going to be valued, whether that's Baltimore, the Royals, the White Sox,” Randy says. His childhood bedroom, Randy recalls, was bedecked in all things baseball: a dresser with knobs painted white with red stitches; a Cardinals blanket on the bed, in honor of his favorite player at the time, Albert Pujols; baseball bats and gloves everywhere. But first he has to conquer the arduous journey of becoming a major league catcher—a process that has derailed many promising careers before his. And after the congratulatory phone call and the hugs with family and the signing of the first big contract, then he will begin the process that has stalled or destroyed so many other prospects of his stature: becoming a big league catcher. 1 in 2012; Elias was Houston’s scouting director at the time and is credited as pushing for that selection. CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc. site: media | arena: mlb | pageType: stories | 1 pick of the 2001 MLB draft and a Hall of Fame presence behind the plate, every other team in baseball has tried its hardest to find similar gold in the first round. These things can change on a whim, but the expectation for now is that the Orioles will select Oregon State's Adley Rutschman, making him the first catcher taken No. All Rights Reserved. Perhaps the top selling point with Rutschman is his well-rounded nature. “At this time, we've got five players we're actively considering, and we're keeping our eye on one or two other dark horses.”. “Rutschman has the chance to be a generational talent,” says a Northwest area scout. They’re incredibly rare—the closest thing baseball has to platinum. He was named the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year in 2019. 1 selection since 1989. And though he doesn’t call all the pitches—few college catchers do—Bailey and his coaching staff are more than comfortable letting him. But as I got to do it more, it was one of those things I looked forward to, because then you go back and catch high school guys and it's like, wow, this makes it a lot easier.” It helped that, his junior year, Adley, a self-described late developer, added six inches and 40 pounds to his frame. In other words, that's a player who could hit around .280 while providing more than 20 homers a season and good defense. ), John Peterson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Randy was a highly regarded catching coach—“I think he’s one of the best in the country,” Bailey says—so it was more likely than not that his son would find himself behind the plate for good. If he can survive the rigors of the position, he could be part of arguably the most elite and rare group of players in the game itself. He’s been even better in his junior season, slashing .419/.580/.765 with 17 homers and twice as many walks as strikeouts, making him a regular name atop mock drafts and the favorite to go No. 1] really matters.”, Regardless of which team is on the other line, at some point Monday night, Rutschman’s phone will ring as he watches the draft with friends and family in Corvallis, and a major league GM will welcome him to a new squad. Already, though, as someone who chooses to strap on the gear and play the position, he’s part of a unique club all its own. “I've been coaching for 41 years, and I don't know if I've had an individual as wonderful as Adley is.”. Rutschman is the first catcher selected No. “When you take a catcher, there's just a lot more that needs to go right for him to do well, and it's demanding and difficult,” Elias says. “At the beginning of his junior year, I had [Adley’s parents] call me,” Bailey says. MLB teams, though, were interested in him as a catcher; the Mariners tried to take him in the 40th round of the 2016 draft. Rutschman dominated the Pac-12 in 2019, slashing .418/.580/.764 with 17 homers in 56 games. Zunino ended up going third overall to the Mariners, for whom he hit .207/.276/.406 over six seasons before being traded to the Rays last winter. 1 overall since the Twins drafted Joe Mauer with the top pick in 2001. “So many people have asked me, if you had one negative thing to say about him, what would it be? 1 since the Minnesota Twins picked Joe Mauer in 2001. “It’s probably one of the hardest positions in sports,” says veteran Dodgers catcher Russell Martin. 1 is that he ends up more Zunino than Mauer. By the age of eight, Adley says, he knew he wanted to be a major leaguer. As a sophomore in 2018, he hit a preposterous .408/.505/.628 with nine homers and 22 doubles, helping the Beavers win the College World Series as its Most Outstanding Player. The other likely options include Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. (son of former big leaguer Bobby Sr. and whose uncle, Doug, is an Orioles scout), University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, and Georgia high school shortstop C.J. If nothing else, Adley was an excellent defender, and he figured the offense would come around in time. Scouts marvel at his ability to steal strikes and block balls in the dirt despite his large frame. Take one high in the draft, and you might burn a precious top pick on a player who, because of the difficulty of the position, never pans out. In all likelihood, when Commissioner Rob Manfred steps to the podium in the Secaucus, N.J., studios of MLB Network that night to announce the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft on Monday.. Rutschman is just the third catcher in … Joey Bart, whom the San Francisco Giants drafted No. Adley Rutschman has all the makings of a franchise-altering draft prospect. Almost by default, Rutschman is also likely to be ranked in the top 25 or so on most universal lists, as well as No. Posey, Mauer, Yadier Molina: Those are the names fellow catchers put at the top of the ziggurat. So how do you turn a catcher with a first-round pedigree into a major league star? Baltimore finished 47–115 in 2018, sporting the worst record in baseball. © 2004-2020 CBS Interactive. Asked to pick a favorite Rutschman moment, Bailey hesitates. In the championship-clinching game against Arkansas, he went 3-for-4 and drove in two. (He now measures 6’2” and 216 pounds. “In terms of picking the absolute very best player out of the draft, that's almost never happened,” Elias says. He's a switch-hitting backstop who scouts believe could hit for average and power alike. In the 18 years since the Twins turned high school catcher Joe Mauer into the No. Regardless, Adley loved the sport. The draft is a brutally hard thing to figure, but no position seems tougher to predict than catcher. Not that things are much better at any other spot: Just 16 of the 146 first-round catchers ever drafted have been worth 20 or more Wins Above Replacement in their career, and nearly half of them, like Craig Biggio and Dale Murphy, produced most of that value at other positions.

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