The Baltimore Orioles and general manager Mike Elias laid one of the first bricks of their rebuild by drafting Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
Rutschman, 21, a fixture of the Oregon State baseball team from 2017-2019, led the ballclub to the College World Series title in 2018 under the guidance of retired head coach Pat Casey.
Casey, the winningest baseball coach in Oregon State history, recruited Rutschman out of Sherwood High School in Sherwood, Ore., where Rutschman was a two-sport athlete, playing football and baseball.
Casey proved to be an instrumental part in jumpstarting his collegiate career.
"Superstar," was the first word Casey used to describe Rutschman on
Glenn Clark Radio
June 3 hours before the catcher was drafted by the Orioles. "He's different. The fans in Baltimore have seen some unbelievable athletes run through that city. ... He's one of those."
"As long as he stays healthy, he could be a franchise player," he added.
There's no denying the potential is there, especially after an astounding junior year not only at the plate (.411/.575/.751) but also behind the dish. He threw out 13 of 27 runners attempting to steal.
"I think that in the right ballpark he hits 35 home runs a year," Casey said. "He's durable, he's strong, [and] he's dedicated. ... I think he's a game changer."
Comparisons have been drawn between Rutschman and other highly-drafted catchers such as former Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who was the last catcher taken No. 1 overall (2001) prior to Rutschman. Mauer won three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers during his career.
However, a more common comparison has been San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion. Casey was quick to point out that the comparisons are valid -- and maybe even tilt in Rutschman's favor.
"I see this guy being a Hall of Famer player, and I've had some great ones," Casey said. "... If you gave me somebody that he reminds of in the big leagues, the way he does things behind the plate, it would be Buster Posey. I think he's got more power than Buster Posey, [and] I think Buster Posey could be arguably one of the greatest catchers to ever catch."
But with the hype comes added pressure of immediately becoming the face of a franchise looking for a new star after losing fan favorites such as outfielder Adam Jones and infielder Manny Machado.
There is always the fear that the weight of expectations will hurt the development of an up-and-coming player, but Casey wants everyone to know that there should be no concerns. He believes Rutschman is the man for the job.
"If you were going to have anyone be the face of your franchise, in my opinion, you're picking the right guy," Casey explained. "I mean that sincerely. This guy will handle what happens off the field, what happens on the field, what happens in the media room, what happens in charities and hospitals. ... Rutsch is real, Rutsch is what you see is what you get. He's not afraid."
For more from Casey, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Oregon State