By Nate Puciato
Recent No. 1 overall draft pick Adley Rutschman may be the No. 2 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, who added that the catcher has a chance to end up as a high-end major-leaguer even in a worst-case scenario.
During a three-year stint at Oregon State, Rutschman hit .352/.473/.560 and claimed numerous awards, most notably the Golden Spikes and Buster Posey awards in 2019. He was also part of the Beavers’ 2018 College World Series team that secured the title in a three-game set against Arkansas.
“I think you could make the argument, if you wanted to grade based strictly on tools and position scarcity, and you didn’t care about any kind of performance [or] track record, you could probably put him right up near the top,” Callis said on Glenn Clark Radio July 10 with respect to a future top prospects list.
Rutschman would likely fall between Nos. 7 and 12 in the next prospect ranking by MLB Pipeline, Callis said, but Rutschman could be even better than that. The consensus No. 1 overall prospect is Tampa Bay Rays shortstop prospect Wander Franco, who’s hitting .331/.402/.532 across two levels as an 18-year-old this year.
“You could probably argue based on pure tools, Adley Rutschman two I think,” Callis said. “… I had a scout tell me even if he couldn’t catch, he would turn him in as Mark Teixeira. So, I mean, Mark Teixeira behind the plate would be pretty good.”
Taking a step back from Rutschman, Callis believes there are already other players within the farm system O’s fans should be excited about. A few of those players include southpaw DL Hall (High-A Frederick), right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (Low-A Delmarva) and slugger Ryan Mountcastle (Triple-A Norfolk).
Hall, 20, has established himself as somewhat of a strikeout specialist with the Keys this season, notching 80 strikeouts in 53.2 innings with a 3.86 ERA. Callis does believe there is still work to be done in regards to Hall’s command and control — Hall has walked 42 batters this year — but the potential is certainly there.
“Most guys have to figure things out,” Callis said. “He’s in A-ball, High-A at age 20, so he’s ahead of the curve. … It’s just a matter of adjustments. Yes, you want to see more strikes and he’ll need to throw more strikes, but I’m pretty happy with the stuff.”
For Shorebirds righty Grayson Rodriguez (7-2, 2.18 ERA), Callis said he could be the Orioles’ top pitching prospect since Dylan Bundy. Rodriguez has been leading the way for a Shorebirds team that is currently 63-26 and already clinched a spot in the South Atlantic League playoffs.
Rodriguez, 19, has 84 strikeouts in 62.0 innings while only walking 16. That string of performances earned him a nod to pitch in the 2019 All-Stars Futures Game, a matchup between the AL and NL’s top prospects. He pitched an inning without allowing a run.
“He’s probably the most exciting pitcher in the system since Bundy,” Callis said. “… I think the surprise is how good the command has been, because he is throwing a lot of quality strikes, and his numbers are probably as good as all but four or five pitchers in the minor leagues to be honest when you look at the numbers across the board.”
“So I would be very excited about Grayson Rodriguez,” he added.
When it comes to Tides offensive machine Ryan Mountcastle (.307/.329/.505, 15 homers, 51 RBIs), Callis sees him as an outfielder in the future. Mountcastle, 22, was drafted in the first round (36th overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla., as a shortstop.
Mountcastle has since moved off shortstop and has been tested in various positions such as third base, first base and now left field. After showing versatility and consistent production at the plate, Mountcastle earned a spot in the 2019 Triple-A All-Star game in El Paso, Texas, July 10.
“I think ultimately he winds up being a left fielder,” Callis said. “But I do think he’s good enough to be a big-league starting left fielder. … I think Adley Rutschman is going to be the best player when the Orioles are good again, but Ryan Mountcastle has a chance to be one of their two or three best hitters.”
To hear more from Callis, listen to the full interview here:
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