Image credit: Adley Rutschman (Photo by Tom DiPace)
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams’ most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization’s 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: C Adley Rutschman (1) was the No. 1 overall pick for many reasons, but his hitting ability was certainly a major factor. He projects as a 70-grade hitter with excellent feel for the zone and an advanced ability to make adjustments at the plate. He hit .325/.413/.481 in the New York-Penn League, but he struggled in shorter stints in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic leagues.
Best Power Hitter: Rutschman has 60-grade in-game power from both sides of the plate after successfully incorporating more power into his game during his junior season at Oregon State, when he hit 17 home runs. Some scouts will go so far as to give Rutschman 70-grade raw power, but it’s at least plus.
Fastest Runner: OF Mason Janvrin (14) was a menace on the base paths in college, stealing 34 and 52 bases during his sophomore and junior seasons, respectively. Throughout his time at Central Missouri, Janvrin went 76-for-94 (80.1 percent) in stolen base attempts, and in his pro debut in the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn leagues, he went 17-for-21 (81 percent). He is an 80-grade runner who routinely posts elite run times from home to first.
Best Defensive Player: Rutschman has plus tools across the board and that includes his defensive work, where he’s a polished receiver and game manager in addition to having a big arm. SS Joey Ortiz (4) is a plus defender at shortstop, and his arm plays up thanks to terrific exchange and footwork.
Best Athlete: Rutschman’s athleticism is impressive for a catcher, and he was also a member of Oregon State’s football team as a freshman place kicker.
Best Fastball: The Orioles put an emphasis on position players at the top, which means RHP Griffin McLarty (8) takes the prize for best fastball, despite a heater that tops out in the low 90s. However, McLarty seems to be one of those arms who can have success without massive velocity due to his precise strike-throwing ability and plus command.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Shelton Perkins (16) has a slider that will flash double-plus potential, and he used that pitch to strike out each of the first six hitters he faced during his pro debut with low Class A Aberdeen.
Best Pro Debut: RHP Kade Strowd (12) didn’t allow an earned run in 17 innings with low Class A Aberdeen. He mostly pitched in relief—making just one start—and struck out 19 batters (10.1 strikeouts per nine innings) while walking seven (3.7 walks per nine).
Most Intriguing Background: SS Gunnar Henderson (2) has athletic bloodlines, as his older brother, Jackson, is an infielder and outfielder at Auburn. It also seems like he was destined to be drafted by Baltimore. His younger brother, Cade, is a big Orioles fan and spent draft night watching in his Orioles pajamas, predicting the team would draft Gunnar.
Closest To The Majors: Given the amount of categories Rutschman has already taken in this draft report card, it should come as no surprise that he will be a quick mover. He could hold his own in the majors as soon as late 2020, though it would be shocking for the team to move him that rapidly.
Best Late-Round Pick: The Orioles signed 3B Toby Welk (21) for just $1,000 on Day 3, and he dominated the New York-Penn League, hitting .344/.397/.500 with four home runs and 12 doubles. While he was old for the league, that’s a strong debut for an unheralded prospect from Penn State Berks.
The One Who Got Away: Baltimore signed every one of their picks through the first 33 rounds before getting to SS Zach Arnold (34), who is an above-average runner with above-average arm strength and a chance to get to above-average power as well. Arnold was originally committed to Oregon, but he later flipped his commitment to Louisiana State.