The Orioles have promoted catcher Adley Rutschman from Double-A to Triple-A Norfolk, the team announced last night. (MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubtako first reported he’d be moving up a level.) Rutschman, who now ranks as the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball at Baseball America and MLB.com following Wander Franco’s graduation from the list, opened the year at the Double-A level and posted a .271/.392/.508 batting line with 18 home runs, 16 doubles and nearly as many walks (15.4 percent) as strikeouts (15.9 percent). That slash was good for a whopping 144 wRC+ in the a very pitcher-friendly Double-A setting — the tenth-best mark of any qualified hitter in Double-A this season.
While he’s now technically just one step from the big leagues, it’s hard to imagine Rutschman would be summoned to the Majors before season’s end. The Orioles have just a 38-72 record on the season, and they’d gain another year of control over Rutschman by waiting until the third week of the 2022 season to promote him to the big leagues, barring any changes to service time structure in collective bargaining talks between MLB and the MLB Players Association. The current CBA expires on Dec. 1, and service time issues such as this are widely expected to be a talking point.
Some more notes out of Baltimore…
- While Rutschman is the hopeful future at catcher for the Orioles, it’s been Pedro Severino there more often than anyone else over the past couple of seasons. The 28-year-old has batted .245/.316/.400 over the past three seasons in Baltimore (94 wRC+), but his bat has dipped slightly in 2021. Kubatko suggests that Severino, who’ll be a due a raise on this year’s $1.825MM salary in arbitration over the winter, is likely to instead be non-tendered by the O’s. Severino has been a solid bat relative to other catchers around the league, but defensively, he’s had his share of struggles. He’s been roughly average in terms of caught-stealing rate over the past few years, but Severino draws poor pitch-blocking ratings at Baseball Prospectus, sub-par framing marks and checked in at -19 Defensive Runs Saved since coming to the O’s in 2019.
- The Orioles are open to eventually playing Jorge Mateo in the outfield, writes Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun, but manager Brandon Hyde also added that the team’s hope is to get the recently claimed speedster comfortable playing in the middle infield. Baltimore claimed the 26-year-old Mateo off waivers from the Padres just four days ago — a move that could finally give the former top prospect a path to regular playing time in the big leagues. Mateo originally signed with the Yankees but was traded to Oakland in the Sonny Gray swap and then to the Padres for a player to be named later. Mateo is 3-for-11 with a double, a triple and a pair of steals to begin his Orioles tenure. The Padres acquired Mateo on June 30, 2020, but on a win-now club with a crowded roster, he never had much of an avenue to playing time. He appeared in 79 games with San Diego from 2020-21 but only recorded a combined 121 plate appearances in that time.