SARASOTA, Fla. (WJZ) — Adley Rutschman hasn’t played a single game in the big leagues, but he’s the Baltimore Orioles’ most important player.

Rutschman wears number 96, one of those high numbers reserved for minor leaguers filling out the spring roster who are a longshot to make the team.

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Sarasota, FL – JUL 03: 2019 MLB top overall draft pick Adley Rutschman takes batting practice before the Gulf Coast League (GCL) game between the GCL Rays and the GCL Orioles on July 03, 2019, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Despite that, he is neither of those. He’s here with high expectations to have an all-star career in his second big league spring training. He’s often asked when he thinks he’ll be ready to play in the majors.

“I’d like to think I can compete at any level you put me at,” he said. “… I don’t really know what my timeline looks like. I am just here to play baseball and get better every day.”

As a catcher, Rutschman is a quarterback on the field, closely communicating with pitchers and calling out defensive alignments. He’s a take-charge guy and manager Brandon Hyde said it’s notable to see that with a young player.

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“I think it’s unusual. It’s very natural for him. There’s nothing forced, there’s nothing fake. He’s naturally a guy who understands his position,” Hyde said. “He’s very vocal in a great way. It’s very mature beyond his year.”

When asked if he’s getting more comfortable with fans’ perceptions that he’s the face of the franchise, he said, “I think it’s a very fortunate and humbling position to be in… (to) have people say that, but I think it gets easier every day, every single day that I am here playing baseball.”

Most indications point to Rutschman making his major league debut a Camden Yards next year, with him starting this season with the minor league Bowie Baysox.

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