A dismal season could not dampen the excitement surrounding Adley Rutschman and what he means to the future of the Baltimore Orioles.
Rutschman, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's Major League Baseball draft, appeared confident when meeting with the media for the first time at Camden Yards June 25.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias presented Rutschman with Orioles jersey emblazoned with the number one and a cap that appeared to be the perfect fit -- both physically and symbolically.
"We couldn't be more thrilled with the outcome, having him join our organization and be a part of the process we're going through to take this organization back to where it belongs," Elias said. "We are in phase right now where we're looking for building blocks and I think by signing Adley Rutschman, we found a very big piece."
Rutschman will report to Sarasota, Fla., later this week as part of the Gulf Coast League roster and then will eventually head to Short Season-A Aberdeen.
There is still no timetable for how long he will stay with the IronBirds or how quickly he might be promoted to a higher affiliate.
"I think we'll let his play determine how fast he moves," Elias said. "Every player is different. Every first-round pick is different. You know we certainly don't need to start him [at Aberdeen] if we don't want to.
"But I always believe, when in doubt, start players at the lower level league because it's very easy to transfer them if they're performing well. We took a lot of college players and almost all of them will be starting there. We have a great franchise and facility there, and it's really close to Baltimore. So, it's a lot of positives starting his career there."
Rutschman comes to Baltimore with lofty expectations. He is just the second No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, joining Ben McDonald (1989), and also reportedly received a major-league record $8.1 million signing bonus.
Rutschman, 21, is not fazed by the pressure.
"It's always been a goal of mine to be in this position," Rutschman said. "For me, it's always been about the process of getting there. So, now it's about setting new goals. Now that I'm here, I am just excited about the opportunity."
Rutschman had a slash line of .411/.575/.751 with 10 doubles, a triple, 17 home runs and 58 RBIs in 57 games as a junior at Oregon State in 2019. He won numerous major amateur and college baseball awards, including being named the winner of the Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur player in the United States this spring.
Elias is still determining how many innings Rutschman will catch the rest of the summer. At this point, the Orioles are more concerned about him developing as a hitter.
"We'll see as the summer goes," Elias said. "He's definitely going to catch. He's not going to catch every single day of the week, which nobody does in minor league baseball. One consideration we have is that we feel that his defense is fairly polished. We don't feel he needs to log a ton of development innings at the catcher position.
"The at-bats are probably going to be more important for his minor-league development. But certainly we want to keep him catching and get him some experience catching in pro ball with pitchers he hasn't worked with."
Rutschman is excited to be part of a storied franchise such as the Orioles. He is focused on getting better and eventually helping the team get back on track.
He certainly has added a new level of hope in light of the club's struggles during the last two seasons.
"It's very exciting to me," Rutschman said. "I've been very fortunate to be part of a system at Oregon State that is kind of similar to this one. The fans are great."