When the Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Florida, for the start of spring training next month, Adley Rutschman will be among them.
The Orioles’ top prospect will be among the club’s nonroster invitees to major league camp, a team source confirmed Monday. Rutschman, the former Oregon State catcher, was taken with the club’s first overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft, receiving a record $8.1 million signing bonus. He was recently named No. 1 on MLB Pipeline’s list of top catching prospects.
Rutschman isn’t going to spring training to compete for a spot on Baltimore’s 26-man roster. The move is two-fold: It affords the Orioles another catcher to catch bullpens in the early portion of spring while also giving Rutschman, a hopeful fixture in an eventual Orioles playoff team, the experience of being at the major league spring training.
Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said during the winter meetings that Rutschman would be on the major league side for at least part of spring training but held off on saying whether Rutschman would be a nonroster invitee, which allows the Orioles to use him in spring training games.
Baltimore’s first spring training game is Feb. 22 on the road against the Atlanta Braves, with the Orioles kicking off their 10th year at Ed Smith Stadium the next day against the Boston Red Sox.
“We would love to get [Rutschman] over to the major league side,” Elias said in December. “He is a catcher, which is always useful, and I think it’s great exposure for him to start seeing the major league side of spring training and really learn the whole organization.
“I’m pretty confident saying that fans that come to spring training, especially the early part of spring training, will get a good look at him.”
Rutschman, who will turn 22 five days before the report date, hit .254/.351/.423 with four home runs across three minor league levels after earning a bevy of awards in his final college season. With Rutschman in the fold, the Orioles will have at least five of their top nine prospects, per Baseball America, on the major league side of spring training. The other four in that group — Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, Hunter Harvey and Keegan Akin — are members of the Orioles’ 40-man roster.
MLB.com first reported that Rutschman would formally be a nonroster invitee.