The time has come. With a surprise 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning email, the Orioles have made the announcement that fans have been looking forward to since Adley Rutschman was drafted at #1 overall three years ago. He is officially on the team and will be here on Saturday night. Merry Rutschmas!
The beginning of every big league story also marks the end of somebody else’s, or at least an interruption of theirs. The corresponding roster move for Rutschman’s contract being selected was that Anthony Bemboom has been designated for assignment. It is not a surprise. One of the two catchers would have to go when Rutschman arrived.
This announcement happening in the morning, 11 hours before the next-to-last game in a homestand, on the day of the freaking Preakness in Baltimore, is genuinely a mystery to me.
Was it really so important to have it be exactly today? Perhaps it was, but it seems like the Orioles have missed a substantial opportunity by not giving people at least a day’s notice to make some plans to go to the game. They’ve also missed an opportunity by not making this happen earlier in a homestand, so they could get a boost from the immediate excitement. Well, that’s their problem, not mine.
For now, it seems like everyone who read into the tea leaves and wondered whether the fact that Rutschman was not in Norfolk’s lineup last night meant anything. Looks like it did! He was getting ready to be in Baltimore, and now, here he is. He will be wearing number 35, most recently worn by Adam Plutko and most famously worn by Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, as well as Mike Cuellar.
If Rutschman had not strained his triceps right as the truncated MLB spring training was about to get rolling, maybe he would have joined the parade of top prospects making their debuts on Opening Day. The headliners of this group were Detroit’s Spencer Torkelson (the #1 pick the year after Rutschman,) Kansas City’s Bobby Witt (the #2 pick the same year as Rutschman,) and Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez. Teams seem to have wanted to taken advantage of the new CBA’s rules that offer a small incentive to have a top prospect on the Opening Day roster and stay there all season.
It must be noted that as a group, the trio is not overwhelming with their performance. Torkelson has a .611 OPS after 35 games. Witt is a little better, but still below average, at .667. Rodríguez is the best at .698, which in his park in this year is above MLB average, but still. We’d all be disappointed if Rutschman is OPSing under .700 after a month.
Did this extra few weeks of minor league rehab help him out any? Make sure he’s shaken off the rust? Rutschman certainly destroyed the High-A and Double-A parts of his rehab assignment, no surprise since he’d conquered Double-A last year and spent the last month-plus of the season with Triple-A Norfolk, where he also looked to be MLB ready at the plate.
The rest is for us to find out. It’s time for the second trial of the switch-hitting top catching prospect who is great from both sides of the plate and great defensively to be run in Baltimore. Matt Wieters, well, we all know how that went. Few big leaguers do what he did in his career, but he never turned into MATT WIETERS.
For today, there’s no reason not to dream that this is the start of better things for the Orioles. Adley comin’, y’all.