Image credit: Adley Rutschman (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
State List Talent Ranking: ??????????
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)
After leading Oregon State to a College World Series title as a sophomore, Rutschman entered the 2019 draft season as the consensus top player, and the Beavers’ backstop has done nothing but cement himself in that spot over the past year. Oregon State’s leading hitter during the 2018 College World Series, Rutschman then joined USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in the summer, when he led all hitters in each triple slash category, hitting .355/.432/.516. This spring, Rutschman has taken another step forward offensively, doubly impressive when you consider he hit .408/.505/.628 with nine home runs as a sophomore in 2018. This season, he’s tapped into more of his plus raw power while also significantly boosting his walk rate. Opposing pitchers have often pitched around Rutschman this season, although the 6-foot-2, 216-pound backstop rarely expands the zone and has consistently kept his strikeout rate near 14 percent over his three seasons in the Pac-12. Rutschman has plus power from both sides of the plate, with his righthanded stroke just a bit shorter than his swing from the left side. He makes adjustments well at the plate, and while his 2017 summer in the Cape Cod League wasn’t ideal (.164/.282/.179 in 20 games), scouts have seen him do enough damage with Team USA to remain more than confident in his ability with a wood bat. Overall, Rutschman projects as a future .300 hitter. Defensively, Rutschman has all the tools to be a plus defender at the position. He has a strong arm, impressive receiving and blocking ability and excellent footwork on throws to second base, with a quick exchange from his glove to his release. Some scouts would like to have seen Rutschman throw more frequently this spring, but teams have run against him infrequently—and for good reason. Like most catchers, speed is Rutschman’s weakest tool and the only tool that doesn’t project as plus, but that’s hardly a concern moving forward. Most scouts believe Rutschman has a chance to be an All-Star-level player in the majors as an impact bat in the middle of the order while also bringing plenty of defensive value. With excellent makeup and plenty of natural leadership traits, Rutschman has all the intangibles teams like to see from their backstops. He is the best catching prospect since Buster Posey in 2008 and Matt Wieters in 2007.
Previously a two-way player for Oregon who played shortstop and also served as the Ducks’ closer, Nelson transitioned into a full-time pitching role this spring and attempted to start in his first four games. That experiment didn’t go well, and Nelson quickly returned to a relief role. He has one of the most electric arms in the country, with a 70-grade fastball that has reached the 99-100 mph range at its best. However, the pitch hasn’t played to that level this spring, and he gets hit more than scouts would expect given the premium velocity. He also has a three-year track record of being a below-average strike-thrower in the Pac-12. Despite those knocks, Nelson pairs his fastball with an above-average slider that flashes plus with the potential to a be a true out-pitch. He also throws a fringe-average curveball and changeup. Nelson entered the season with huge stuff and the hope that he could showcase a viable path to starting, but he’s most likely a long-term reliever. As a plus athlete with a 6-foot-3, 184-pound frame, teams might still want to gamble on his pure stuff early on Day 2 of the draft. He hasn’t focused exclusively on pitching for much time at all, and pro player development might be able to make the tweaks necessary for Nelson to become a shutdown reliever at the next level, but there is plenty of work to be done to reach that level.
A 6-foot-4, 225-pound righthander, Gambrell has all of the traits scouts like to see, with a strong frame, fast arm and good stuff. He has plenty of upside as well, thanks to a 92-95 mph fastball and a curveball and changeup that could also be plus pitches. What Gambrell has lacked is consistency. He’ll show three electric pitches for a few innings and then lose it for a bit before he figures it out again. His track record of missing bats isn’t what you would expect considering his pitch grades, although he has improved in that regard through eight starts in 2019.
Yovan is one of the bigger wild cards in the 2019 draft class, as the former two-way player was expected to move into a full-time starting role this spring after a solid summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and in the Cape Cod League. However, Yovan threw just two innings in his debut before leaving the game with a hand injury and hasn’t returned to the mound since. After running tests, it was found that Yovan had a couple small blood clots in his wrist that caused the injury, and the team has played it safe by keeping him out for the entirety of the season. That leaves major league clubs in a difficult situation, as Yovan displayed a solid four-pitch mix over the summer but doesn’t have a prior track record as a starter over a full season. Yovan was used in relief in 2017 and 2018 while also hitting for the Ducks, showing raw power from the right side. When healthy, Yovan throws a fastball that sits in the low 90s and ticks up in a reliever role, and he has a solid feel for a curveball, slider and changeup that are all average pitches. Yovan looked confident throwing each of the offerings at any point, and while there is some stiffness and effort in his arm stroke, he has the size (6-foot-2, 225 pounds), athleticism and pitchability to start. It could be tough for teams to sign Yovan away from returning to Oregon at this point given his injury and lack of innings this spring. If he returns to school, Yovan could be given a redshirt season and retain two years of eligibility.
A solid all-around player with Oregon, Steer is a hit-over-power, utility-type player with impressive defensive ability. Standing at just 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Steer isn’t physically imposing and doesn’t have many loud tools, but he does everything on the field well. This spring, he hit .356/.460/.510 through his first 54 games—leading the team in average and RBIs—and has consistently put together good at-bats going back to his freshman year. Over his first 160 games at Oregon, Steer struck out 86 times (12.1 percent) compared to 70 walks (9.9 percent). He performed well in the Cape Cod League last summer as well, where his Orleans teammates voted him co-MVP (along with Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday) thanks to a .304/.351/.481 line and outstanding defense at both second and third base. Steer has a strong, accurate arm with good footwork at both positions and does an excellent job charging the baseball and gaining ground. Steer projects as a utility-type player at the next level who could hit for a high average.
Philip played two seasons at San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) JC, where he hit .354 with 10 home runs and 30 stolen bases before joining Oregon State for his junior season in 2019. He’s done well in his transition to the Pac-12, hitting .312/.362/.475 through 39 games for the Beavers, though his gaudy stolen base numbers from the JuCo ranks didn’t translate. He’ll need to improve his approach against breaking balls at the next level. And while it would typically be a tough task to replace Cadyn Grenier, who was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2018, as Oregon State’s shortstop, Philip has risen to the occasion and played well defensively. He moves side to side well and does a particularly nice job of making plays up the middle to his glove side. He has plenty of arm strength for the position, so much so, in fact, that if Phillip struggles with the bat at the next level, he could have a realistic fallback option on the mound.
A three-year college performer for Oregon State, Eisert will look great on statistical models after his time in Corvallis. A 6-foot-2, 209-pound lefty, Eisert posted 2.31 and 2.53 ERAs for the Beavers out of the bullpen as a freshman and sophomore, and this spring has split time starting and relieving. Through 14 games and 62 innings this spring (seven starts), Eisert has once again done well, with a 2.03 ERA and a career-high strikeout rate (10.7 per nine), with 74 strikeouts to just 13 walks. Eisert has a solid four-pitch mix, enough that he could get a chance to start at the next level considering how he’s done this spring, but he might work best in a relief role where his fringe-average fastball, which touches 93, could play up. Eisert has a solid slider and changeup, and also throws a curveball that he can locate, but does more with control and command than by overwhelming hitters. Eisert’s collapses his lower half with drop-and-drive mechanics that includes a crossfire landing, though he hides the ball well which also allows his stuff to play up.
A 5-foot-11, 196-pound draft-eligible sophomore, DeLuca was drafted by the Twins in the 39th round of the 2017 draft, but instead made it to campus at Oregon where he has struggled to figure out the offensive side of his game. DeLuca is an above-average runner with above-average arm strength who was one of the best athletes in the 2017 class out of high school, where he also was a competitive long jumper and track runner, but he’s hit just .224/.293/.356 over two seasons with the Ducks and he’s striking out more in 2019. His offensive performance, combined with well below-average power might make him a tough draft, but if he can figure out his swing he could impact a team with his defense and running ability.
9. Alex McGarry, OF, Oregon State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 202 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
10. Mitchell Verburg, RHP, Oregon State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 197 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted
11. Jake Mulholland, LHP, Oregon State
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 204 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted