5:04pm: Rutschman’s deal is official, Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com tweets. He signed for under slot at $8.1MM, according to Callis, who notes it surpasses the record $8MM the Pirates gave No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole in 2011.
9:27am: The Orioles are close to a deal with No. 1 overall draft pick Adley Rutschman, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). The former Oregon State catcher’s No. 1 overall slot carries a value of $8.42MM. Rutschman isn’t the only top O’s pick on whom there’s news today, however; MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports (also via Twitter) that the team’s second-rounder, Gunnar Henderson, has agreed to a deal worth $2.3MM. A high school shortstop out of Alabama, Henderson will receive a bonus that is well north of his No. 42 selection’s $1.771MM slot value.
Rutschman, 21, entered the draft as the consensus top talent on the board. The switch-hitter posted a ludicrous .411/.575/.751 batting line with 17 home runs, 10 doubles and a triple through 266 plate appearances in his junior season with the Beavers. Rutschman’s eye-popping batting average and considerable power numbers almost overshadow his plate discipline at first glance, but his 76-to-38 BB/K ratio is every bit as impressive as the rest of his numbers — if not more so.
Baseball America, MLB.com, Fangraphs and ESPN all ranked Rutschman as the top player in the 2019 draft. ESPN’s Keith Law noted that Rutschman’s defense and plus power give him a high floor with the ceiling of a repeated All-Star, while BA’s report touts him as a potential .300 hitter with plus defensive tools and “excellent” makeup and leadership abilities. Rutschman was the only player in the draft that Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen tabbed as a 60 FV (future value) player on the 20-80 scouting scale. Over at MLB.com, Callis and colleague Jonathan Mayo note that while some players who enter a season as a projected top talent struggle with that pressure and spotlight, Rutschman thrived and elevated his game en route to further cementing himself as this year’s best draft prospect.
Broadly speaking, Rutschman is regarded as a plus defender with power from both sides of the dish, strong plate discipline and a strong enough hit tool to post high batting averages as well. If all of that pans out, Rutschman has the makings of a franchise catcher for the new-look Baltimore front office.
Henderson, meanwhile, has yet to turn 18. Scouting reports were reflective of a split camp as to whether he can remain at shortstop or will need to move to third base down the road. MLB.com (No. 27) and Baseball America (No. 30) pegged him as a late-first-round talent, while ESPN (No. 40) and Fangraphs (No. 41) had him a bit lower. Henderson was Gatorade high school player of the year in Alabama and draws praise for his above-average power and the potential for an above-average hit tool. Henderson is young for his graduating class and still filling out his 6’3″ frame, leading to varying projections about his power potential and eventual defensive home. Even reports who project him to move to third base, though, suggest that he has the tools to be a quality defender there.