Sunday, May 22, 2022

As Bobby Witt Jr arrives in Baltimore, the Orioles think they made the right choice with ‘Unicorn’ Adley Ratshman

This weekend, a player passed by the Orioles with the first overall draft pick will beat a player selected for Camden Yards.

When Mike Elias became executive vice president and general manager of the Orioles in November 2018, he was already on the clock to stand down as the most important decision of his tenure with Baltimore. The result of that choice — selecting Oregon State catcher Adley Ratschman in the 2019 draft instead of Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. — will be on display at Camden Yards throughout the weekend, with Witt coming to town with the Kansas City Royals. , which grabbed him at No.

If not for the correct tricep strain, Rutschmann suffered as the start of major league spring training could represent his first major league matchup. Baseball’s top prospect is getting closer, though; The same day Witt and the Royals began a three-game series at Camden Yards, Reutschmann would play his first game this season with Triple-A Norfolk, after going 11-for-25 with four walks against a strikeout. In seven games with High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie.

Witt, in the end, came here first. But the Orioles have no regrets about their choice.

“At the end of the day, obviously, we felt extremely comfortable with Adley,” said director of draft operations Brad Siolek, reflecting on a first overall pick as Baltimore prepares to make another one in July. “He brings to the table as an elite defender behind the plate, plus-hits from both sides of the plate, not to mention plus-power, more or less a unicorn player, so to speak, in the context of a complete package.

“We were over the moon to be able to take on a guy like Adley because obviously, the ceiling is too high, and he could more or less turn the tide for our organization.”

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Entering this season, 24-year-old Rutschman was nominated for Baseball America and . Ranked as the game’s top prospect according to Fangraph, while 21-year-old Witt was on top of his board in the MLB Pipeline and Baseball Prospectus. Both starred in the Upper Minors last season, with Reutschman hitting .285 with 23 home runs and .899 ops while catching regular catches as Witt made less steals in Kansas City’s system over a 30-30 season. formed the basis of Witt started his major league career slowly, but hit .342 during an 11-game hitting streak that ended on Wednesday.

The pair stood as a clear top two in the most public draft rankings in 2019. Reutsman was long considered the top player available after starring for Team USA and the college World Series champion Beavers, but the Orioles made use of nearly every minute available to him before finalizing. decision.

Ciolek said that the Scouting department, front office and others in the organization had “very, very good, detail-level, high-level thinking and discussion for that selection” to share whether Witt or any other player. How many views did you get? Andrew Vaughan, third overall pick, went on to beat both Ratschman and Witt in the majors last year with the Chicago White Sox. Ciolek admitted that any scout would “play Monday morning quarterback” with a player they liked and that his team ultimately didn’t get it, but even if there were any Witt picks that Baltimore wanted, Ciolek and Elias were clear. that they don’t feel that way. ,

“It was a package in the draft that actually happens, like, once every five years, if not more, and is typical for Adley, so we liked everything about him,” Elias said last week. “While there were a lot of great choices that year, we made the right choice. We’re thrilled with it, and he’s doing great. I think it’s a special talent, a special player and it’s something I think That’s why we were lucky that we picked the year he came out of the draft.”

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Elias said that Reutsman entered the camp as “one of the best talents in the organization, if not the sport,” and once he returned to that level of performance, “I totally Can’t see much more that he probably needs to prove. There are other minor leaguers himself besides him.” Providing that context and asking how much he feels about himself ahead of his first game with Bowie on Tuesday, Rutschmann laughed.

“I just keep trying to stay focused, stay on track, and feel healthy,” Ratshman said. “Results come as they go, so focus on being here with this team for now.”

He was not there for long, playing three games before rejoining the Norfolk team, which he hit at .312 in 2021. It is not clear how long it will need to be there before the Orioles can determine if it is ready for the majors.

“The ultimate goal is to be in the big leagues,” Ratschman said. “Obviously there is a part of you that wants to be there and be there as soon as possible, but just have to be present, be where you are at the moment and enjoy the moments where you go.”

Royals @ Orioles

Friday, 7:05 pm

TV: Masan

radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

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Nation World News Desk
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