Rushing slams a couple firsts in career game at Double-A

May 28th, 2024

With two swings, marked off two career milestones on Monday. And with the second one, he added something he hadn't yet done this season.

MLB's No. 51 prospect brought early fireworks to Double-A Tulsa's 12-3 win at ONEOK Field. Rushing -- who entered the game with six home runs on the season -- smashed his first professional grand slam during his second at-bat of the night, breaking a 3-3 tie in the fourth inning.

"Honestly, it was the first lefty I've seen in the last few weeks," Rushing said. "So it was more of, 'What do I really handle over the plate? As a hitter, what gives me the best chance to damage?' And that's my job. ... It for sure felt good. It came at a good time."

More from MLB Pipeline:
Top 100 prospects | Stats | Video | Podcast | Complete coverage

The top Dodgers prospect realized Naturals lefty Keylan Killgore (Royals) wasn't landing his slider early on, so Rushing waited on the fastball and sent a 1-2 heater that caught too much of the zone to right-center field. The roundtripper marked the left-handed hitter's first against a southpaw this season. He hit four off of lefties in 2023.

The slam marked back-to-back games with a long ball for Rushing and his third in his past five games. The homer pushed Rushing's RBI total to five on the night, marking a career high through his third season in the Minors.

"Before every year, a lot of people ask me what my goals are," the Louisville product said. "Me personally, I've never really set a number on average, a number on homers. Obviously, I have a number that I'm going for through a full season, but it's not really a goal for me. The only goal that I really set is to see if I can get to triple digits in RBIs, and that's something that I really take pride in."

Rushing -- who started the scoring by lining an RBI single to right in the first -- takes as much pride in driving in runs as does in his on-base percentage. With runners on base, he's learned to trust his instincts.

"The harder I swing, the less chance I give myself to succeed," Rushing said. "That's something I've really learned over time, (understand) my zone and stay within myself."

Rushing ended his night 2-for-5, his seventh multihit game and fifth contest with multiple runs driven in this season.

Selected 40th overall in the 2022 Draft by the Dodgers, the 23-year-old is slashing .258/.384/.500 with 25 RBIs in 35 games. He's amassed the most home runs and RBIs while posting the best OPS among Texas League catchers -- a group that includes fellow Top 100 prospect Harry Ford (Mariners).

"It puts me into a little more of a competitive mode," he said.

Rushing served as the designated hitter for the 16th time this season. He has started 19 games at catcher, trading off with Dodgers No. 7 prospect Diego Cartaya. In his starts at catcher, Rushing has thrown out six of the 28 runners who have attempted to steal against him (21.4%).

"Being in an organization like the Dodgers, there's not always an open spot," Rushing said. "You kind of got to trickle your way in as well as you can and do whatever you got to do to get there."

Although missing a week last season with a concussion at High-A, he showed consistency at the plate in 2023. Rushing amassed a .228/.404/.452 slash line with 15 home runs and 18 doubles for the Loons, but in moving up a level, he has bolstered his power while continuing to sport an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio: 27 to 19.

"It's something I take pride in," Rushing said. "When I get on base, it forces guys behind me to be thrown to, and when things like that happen, usually you score a lot of runs. The more runs we score, the more games we win. The more games we win, everybody's happy."

This particular victory made him even happier.

"We're playing on a day that we are supporting the country we live in for people that fight for our live every day," he said. "Memorial Day is one of the greatest holidays in 365 days in a year, so it was pretty cool, absolutely. And to have a night like this made it even more special."