Playing Division I sports is no small feat. Becoming a professional athlete is impressive. Going No. 1 overall in the MLB draft is extremely difficult. Being touted as one of the best catching prospects of the last decade? That takes some generational talent.
No athlete can reach any of those levels without dedication and hard work, and no one knows how these traits relate to Baltimore Orioles top pick Adley Rutschman better than the man he hugged first after being selected: his father, Randy.
"It was very exciting for the family, very exciting for him, very exciting for all of the people that have been involved," Randy said on
Glenn Clark Radio
June 4. "As a dad, you're extremely thrilled at the opportunity for [him] to have a chance to pursue [his] passion."
Randy and his wife, Carol, raised their family in Sherwood, Ore. With Randy having played baseball collegiately at Linfield College (Ore.) and Randy's father, Ad, once being the Linfield's head football and baseball coach, Adley grew up around athletics and played multiple sports at a young age.
But even with his father and grandfather being notable influences, Randy says his wife played the biggest role in developing Adley into the competitor he is today.
"My wife would take him out golfing, he's a real competitive golfer and loves it ... and they would talk about every single shot on every single hole," Randy said. "My dad was the big-picture guy, and really growing up Adley didn't understand who his grandpa was. So I think that throughout time my dad would sprinkle those little pieces of wisdom, but I think my wife from a competitive standpoint, whether they were playing Pictionary or ping pong, she pushed him pretty hard, too, and drew that competitiveness from him."
Randy said he never pushed his son to work on his game; rather, it was Adley's genuine "hunger for learning" that allows him to be great. He might have noticed these tendencies early on in his son's development, but he was never sure of his son's chances to play professionally until recently.
"The kids kind of grew up with an association [of] just being around the game of baseball, and I think through that he developed a passion for playing baseball," Randy said. "Somehow he had a determination in him from a young age that no matter what, if he decided he wanted to do something, he was extremely determined. He was 5 years old and he wanted to be good at making paper airplanes so he would make 100-200 paper airplanes a day."
He first noticed his son's potential to play in college when he saw Adley throw 80 mph as a high school freshman. During a game as a sophomore, Adley fired a ball to second base, which his father described as "college level."
"I think I tended to underrate my kid when he was growing up," Randy said.
He also noted how his son's ability to hit from both sides of the plate came not from deliberately working at it but rather because of an irritated right elbow he suffered as a freshman in high school. It hurt Adley to swing the bat right-handed for a few weeks, so he decided to switch to lefty and he's found success batting both ways ever since.
Adley didn't even work at catching until later on in high school, initially focusing on pitching. His love for the game and ability to hit, however, led him to change positions so that he could play every day instead of taking the rest days required of pitchers.
Former Oregon State catcher Logan Ice was drafted in 2016, one year before Adley arrived on campus, which opened up an opportunity in Corvallis, Ore.
"The reality is ... he actually was originally committed to go to Oregon State as a pitcher," Randy said. "It wasn't until his senior year that one of the associates with Oregon State said, 'Shoot, Logan Ice is leaving, you may want to think about having him catch.'"
With a .411/.575/.751 line during his final college season, Adley is expected to help bring a struggling Orioles franchise out from the bottom of the American League. His father recognizes the reality of this pressure but thinks his son will continue to impress him and flourish in the pros through the help of his new team.
"He handled [expectations] really well, and I think the thing that does it for him is ... he's a really big team-guy. When he's on the team he's extremely loyal and he's loyal to his teammates," Randy said. "He has some sort of special thing there that allows him to continually focus on something for long periods of time. I don't know where that came from."
To hear more from Randy Rutschman, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Oregon State