LA thrilled to draft Louisville slugger Rushing

Lefty-hitting catcher hit 23 homers in 2022

July 18th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers struck gold the last time they selected a catcher out of Louisville high in the MLB Draft in Will Smith. They’re hoping for similar results after taking Louisville catcher Dalton Rushing with the 40th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.

Rushing was the Dodgers’ lone pick on Sunday. Because they exceeded the luxury tax threshold, Los Angeles was the only organization without a first-round pick in the ‘22 Draft. Despite that, the Dodgers came away pleased with their result.

“We think he's an extremely talented player,” said Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino. “We love his strength, we love his athleticism. We thought he could hit with power and not chase outside the zone, and maybe a little underappreciated because he sat behind [2021 No. 1 overall pick out of Louisville] Henry Davis last year. We’re excited to get a left-handed-hitting catcher with power.”

As Gasparino mentioned, with Davis now in professional baseball, Rushing got more opportunities to showcase his talents at Louisville and had a breakout season at the plate, hitting .310 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs. His 23 homers were tied for the fourth-most in Louisville history and were the most for a player since the ‘09 season.

Rushing played some first base during his time in college, but the Dodgers see him as a catcher moving forward. Rushing played 36 games behind the plate in ‘22, while also playing some first and being the team’s designated hitter. 

“I do think his athleticism is underappreciated, so whether there’s multiple positions down the road, sure,” Gasparino said. “But we believe strongly in the catching outcome. Most of the industry had doubts because he only caught like two days a week. Some of that sporadic playing time back there clouded what we think is a talented catcher.”

Scouts believe Rushing’s bat speed and raw power from the left side will translate well into professional baseball. On a scale of 20-to-80, MLB Pipeline gave Rushing a 50 for his hit tool and a 55 for his raw power. The 21-year-old also improved his plate discipline in ‘22, ranking in the top 10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 50 walks.

Rushing, who is ranked as the 50th best prospect in this year’s Draft in MLB Pipeline’s Top 250 list, was named to the Perfect Game All-America third team, All-ACC second team and All-ACC Baseball Academic Team.

The Dodgers are known for their success with young catchers. Smith, the team’s first-round pick in ‘16, is off to a strong start to his Major League career. In the Minors, Rushing will join a strong catching group that is led by the Dodgers’ top overall prospect Diego Cartaya, who represented the organization in Saturday’s Futures Game. The Dodgers also have Jesus Galiz and Carson Taylor, the organization’s No. 26 and No. 27 overall prospects, respectively.

“It’s a great fit. Louisville players do great in the Dodgers’ organization,” Rushing said via Zoom. “I believe the organization does a great job with catchers. Will Smith has obviously shown the ability he has behind the plate. I can’t even explain how excited I am to get going.”