Orioles catching prospect Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft, has already embraced his role as a key figure for a franchise and fan base starved for success.
Touted as the consensus top overall prospect coming into the draft, Rutschman was the name every Orioles fan expected to hear when league commissioner Rob Manfred stepped to the podium June 3. Rutschman, who signed with the club June 24, hopes to instill a winning culture into a once-storied franchise.
"I'm very excited, and to be honest, I love to win," Rutschman said on
Glenn Clark Radio
July 9. "That's what it's really about for me is winning, and winning with a great group of guys. So for me, that's the most exciting part about it is just to see that rebuild happening."
While some may assume his competitiveness and desire to win comes from simply being an athlete on the rise, Rutschman
attributes his mindset to his mother, Carol,
who has pushed him to be his very best since he was young.
"My mom is extremely competitive," Rutschman said. "... My mom and I, believe it or not, doesn't matter what it is, whether its golf, ping pong -- or Pictionary is a big one too -- we would get into it, like big time. There was a lot of trash talk, and we'd get heated very quickly."
This competitive edge is something Rutschman brings to the baseball field as well. It will certainly be beneficial going forward, with some pressure already on the young catcher to perform at such an early stage in his professional career.
Dealing with the expectations of being a first overall pick can be a daunting task. Those expectations can come from multiple angles, whether it's handling outside pressure from the media, which can tout a player as the next great thing, or even from a fan base that expects the world.
However, for Rutschman, he views the opportunity as just another chance to prove his ability.
"I mean, the thing is people put a lot of expectations on me, but I always feel like they're not even close to the ones I put on myself," Rutschman said. "So, I think that makes it easier for me, just because I always stick to my goals and I know my processes."
"It's always just to be the best the best person and best player I can be and work as hard as I can to get there. If I'm doing that, I don't have to worry about anything else," he added.
There certainly won't be much to worry about if the 2019 Golden Spikes Award winner continues to the show the form he carried with him while at Oregon State. Rutschman batted .356/473/.560 while also accumulating 27 homers and 171 RBIs during his time with the Beavers from 2017-2019.
Rutschman is currently working out at the Orioles' spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla., and will soon make his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He is scheduled to make the next leap to Short Season-A Aberdeen sometime this season.
Rutschman has already set goals for what he hopes to achieve early in his career with the Orioles organization.
"For me, it's just going to be to continue working on my swing, working on my defense [and] getting accustomed to the league," Rutschman said. "Seeing how the minor-league system works, and try to perform at my best, because that's what it's about."
Shortstop Cadyn Grenier, currently at Low-A Delmarva and a former teammate of Rutschman at Oregon State, has been one of those people trying to help Rutschman become accustomed to the organization.
Rutschman and Grenier shared the diamond for Oregon State during the 2018 College World Series, a title the Beavers won by defeating Arkansas in the final three-game series. Both players were stars during their time with Oregon State and proved to be a major driving force behind the Beavers' title.
"That bond that you have from winning a national championship, is something that lasts for life," Rutschman said. "Having a friend like Cadyn in the system has been a huge help."
However, Grenier isn't the only former teammate Rutschman has reached out to. Outfielder Zach Watson, whom Rutschman played with on USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team last summer, was drafted by the Orioles in the third round and is now playing for Aberdeen.
"He's a good buddy of mine and I've been texting him quite a bit, asking him about Aberdeen and whatnot, so I'm excited to see him," Rutschman said.
Despite still being a ways away from Camden Yards, the admiration and support from the Orioles' fan base has been well received by Rutschman, and he can't wait to suit up for the Birds' faithful in Charm City.
Having been introduced to the fans at Camden Yards June 25, he has already gotten a taste of what is to come further down the road.
"They did a great job while I was there," Rutschman said. "Just to have that special moment where I was on the field in front of the fans ... it's been a lot of fun."
For more from Rutschman, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox