Rutherford Falls To Yankees In First Round
NEW YORK—For whatever reason, Canoga Park, Calif., high school outfielder Blake Rutherford fell to the Yankees at No. 18 overall, and they were overjoyed to land the 19-year-old.
Some organizations had the 6-foot-3, 195-pound lefthanded hitter rated as high as the sixth or seventh pick in the draft. Baseball America rated Rutherford the ninth-best prospect in the draft.
A scholarship offer from UCLA may have given some teams pause, though the Yankees should be able to sign Rutherford.
“Blake’s a guy who we’ve scouted for a long time, and we couldn’t be happier that he fell to us,” scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said. “He’s hit at a high level, he can run, he’s a really good defender in center field and he’s got power. He’s got a chance to have all the tools to profile.
"The fact that he’s performed on a big stage with Team USA, where he’s been a quality performer, makes it really exciting for us.”
Rutherford, a Simi Valley, Calif., native, is the first high school pick by the Yankees in the first round since 2012, when they drafted righthander Ty Hensley with the 30th overall pick. They last selected a first-round prep outfielder in 2009, when they took Slade Heathcott.
After hitting .577 with a 1.599 OPS at Chaminade College Prep High this season, Rutherford is projected to grow into a right fielder after playing center as an amateur.
Because he is 19, Rutherford played his senior season older than the average high school player, but that didn’t bother the Yankees.
• The Yankees selected Louisville second baseman Nick Solak in the second round. The junior hit .380/.474/.576 this season, with 20 extra-base hits and 49 runs scored in 45 games. The Cardinals continue their season in this weekend’s super regional. The 21-year-old righthanded hitter earned third-team All-America honors and second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference accolades this season.
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“Solak is a really accomplished hitter,” Oppenheimer said. “He makes hard contact, he walks, he has plate discipline and he’s tough. He’s also a plus runner, with tools to stand on in the middle of the diamond.”