Rutschman had been struggling here in the first month of his big-league career, so he cracked a slight smile as he was rounding third, which morphed into a full-on smile as he crossed home plate.
Wednesday was the 21st MLB game of Rutschman’s young career, and he went yard in his 84th plate appearance with Baltimore. Through his first 20 games, he hit .176/.256/.257 (49 OPS+) with four doubles, a triple and eight runs scored. He hadn’t yet collected an RBI, so the homer marked his first two in that column as well.
There hasn’t really been anything to this point from Rutschman that should sour anyone on his big-time potential. If anything, his early struggles are merely another reminder of how hard it is to adjust to the majors from the minors. Remember, even Mike Trout struggled in his first go-round.
Rutschman, 24, was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Oregon State by the Orioles. He’s hit well at every level where he’s spent even a decent amount of time. In 180 career minor-league games, he’s a .281/.390/.487 hitter with 38 doubles, three triples, 30 homers, 111 RBI and 117 runs.
He’s expected to be one of the centerpieces of the Orioles’ turnaround and, they hope, next playoff team. Given the track record and skill set, we’ll consider the home run on Wednesday night the first of many and a sign of things to come.