When the Baltimore Orioles selected first overall in the MLB draft for just the second time in franchise history June 3, they added catcher Adley Rutschman to a club that had just one member before Rutschman was drafted: Ben McDonald.
McDonald, a right-handed pitcher from LSU who played for the Orioles from 1989-1995, is a baseball analyst for SEC Network and ESPN and has called Rutschman's games in the past.
"I have seen Adley several times. I do the College World Series and he's been there the last few years, so I got to watch him play and I was amazed by him," McDonald said on
Glenn Clark Radio
June 4. "He is very athletic and he has power from both sides of the plate."
McDonald noted that Rutschman comes from a baseball powerhouse in Oregon State, which won the national championship in 2018 and produced several early-round picks in the 2018 draft, including infielder Nick Madrigal, selected fourth overall by the Chicago White Sox, and infielder Cadyn Grenier, selected No. 37 overall by the Orioles.
McDonald's biggest question about Rutschman going into his junior season with the Beavers was how he would fare without them in the lineup as protection.
"He put those questions to rest right away," McDonald said. "He had a phenomenal year. I'm excited about Adley, and I think he is the best player in the draft."
McDonald does not think Orioles fans are too far away from seeing Rutschman play at Camden Yards. He believes Rutschman is big-league ready defensively but will need some time to adjust to professional level pitching as a hitter. He credits Rutschman's maturity and his play in the Pac-12, one of the best conferences in college baseball, for his advanced career progress to date.
McDonald also says the club's pitching prospects are fortunate to have the opportunity to throw to a catcher as skilled as Rutschman.
"I don't doubt his catching abilities right now. Once he gets to know the pitching staff I think Adley could step in and catch right now," McDonald said. "Look, this kid is an athlete and he's got his head screwed on right, more importantly. He is very mature. I don't know when the Orioles will bring him up. Adley, for me, is a kid I could see in the big leagues a year from now if the Orioles choose to start his clock."
McDonald can relate with the pressure the achievement brings more than anyone else.
"The best advice is to continue doing the things that got you where you are today," said McDonald, an analyst for the Orioles Radio Network. "Don't try to be anybody that you are not and I think he is a young man that kind of understands that and again he has played at a lot of top level places, so he has experienced some pressure."
McDonald's advice to Orioles fans is simple: Be patient with Rutschman and the team's rebuild. Overall, he likes the direction the rebuild is going thus far and is excited for the future of the team.
With one of the worst records in baseball this year, there is a fair chance the Orioles will be picking No. 1 overall again next year. McDonald said to keep an eye on Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Georgia right-handers Emerson Hancock as two players who could be drafted in that spot next season.
"You don't want to get too excited because [Rutschman] is just one part but you like where he is, you like what the Orioles did," McDonald said. "So it's going to be fun to watch."
To hear more from McDonald, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles and Oregon State