BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Orioles officially introduced their top draft pick, former Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, to the Baltimore media and fans at a press conference Tuesday. The 21-year-old catcher, fresh off signing his first MLB contract (a record one at that), immediately touted the team’s facility and the city itself as he prepares to start his major league career.
“It’s a truly beautiful city and I’m very excited to be here,” said Rutschman. “It’s a special thing here, a special history. To be a part of that and the building process that is going on right now, I’m humbled by that opportunity.”
Rutschman will take batting practice with the team ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the San Diego Padres at Camden Yards. Afterwards, he’ll be introduced to the fans in a traditional pregame ceremony for the team’s top pick.
After a junior season in which he posted a .411 batting average with 17 home runs and 58 RBI, the Orioles selected Rutschman with the first overall pick in this year’s draft, making him just the second catcher in the last 20 years to be taken in the top spot.
Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias said that the team is thrilled to have Rutschman join the organization and gave some insight into the next steps for the young backstop. After finishing up collecting his college awards, Rutschman will head to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota before joining the team’s Gulf Coast League roster. Once he’s gotten comfortable, the plan is to have him play with the Aberdeen Ironbirds of the New York-Penn League. That may come as a disappointment to fans hoping to see the top pick move quickly, but Elias said that he prefers to start prospects at lower levels and allow them to determine how quickly they move through the organization.
“We’ll let his play determine how fast he moves,” said Elias. “I always believe in starting players at the lower level and then if they’re playing well you can move them quickly from there.”
Elias added that Rutschman could also see time at first base and designated hitter to give him a break from behind the plate.
Rutschman, for his part, said he doesn’t feel the pressure of being the number one overall pick is any different than what he went through over the last year being projected to be in that spot. He says that it was always on his list of things to accomplish and now that he’s here it’s time to set his sights on new goals.
“It was always a goal of mine to be in this position,” said Rutschman. “I don’t know if I ever expected it because it was all about the process of getting there. Now it’s all about setting new goals and expectations.”