Rutschman breaks through for 1st MLB HR

Orioles' top prospect collects first two RBIs on home run in Toronto

June 16th, 2022

TORONTO -- Patience has been key in Adley Rutschman’s ascent to the Majors, but it played no part in baseball’s No. 1 prospect collecting home run No. 1.

Jumping on a first-pitch fastball from Blue Jays starter José Berríos in the fourth inning on Wednesday night, Rutschman powered a deep drive over the center-field wall at Rogers Centre for a two-run homer. The ball traveled 411 feet with an exit velocity of 103.2 mph, according to Statcast, and it resulted in the Orioles catcher's first two big league RBIs.

Rutschman tacked on a double in Baltimore's 7-6, 10-inning loss to Toronto, marking his second game with multiple extra-base hits in the past week.

Rutschman, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft who hit 23 homers in the Minors last season, needed 21 games and 84 plate appearances to collect his first long ball at the top level. With a 65-grade power tool, per MLB Pipeline, this should only be the start for the 24-year-old.

“He's been taking good at-bats,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s just not getting a ton of results. Tonight, he really swung the bat, and he drove two baseballs. Good to see him get his first one out of the way.”

The results actually are starting to come for Rutschman. Thanks in part to his milestone home run, the switch-hitter is 7-for-22 over his past six games. Still, 20 homerless games to begin his big league tenure is likely not what Rutschman -- or the O’s faithful -- envisioned.

At the end of his maiden trot around the bases, Rutschman was greeted at the dugout steps by Trey Mancini, home run chain in hand.

Mancini hung the chain around Rutschman’s neck and leaned in for a warm back-slapping embrace. The hug wasn’t planned, Mancini said. It just felt like the right time to give one.

“I know when you're in a bit of a homer drought -- and especially when the homer’s your first Major League homer -- you kind of just want a hug after that,” Mancini said. “I remember Manny [Machado] gave me a hug [after] my first home run. So it was kind of like a full-circle moment. ... But yeah, just felt like Adley deserved and needed a hug right there. Because it's a great feeling.”

Mancini didn’t have to wait long for his first MLB home run. He clubbed a solo shot in his second at-bat as a September callup in 2016. Still, as a player who’s seen the weight of homer droughts throughout a six-year career, Mancini can sympathize with the young Rutschman.

“I mean, naturally, you definitely take a load off whenever you hit your first home run,” Mancini said. “And definitely, you're able to breathe a little bit more. ...

​"But he's handled himself so well. I think there is a degree of relaxation and kind of that metaphoric deep breath you really can take after that first homer. I'm really excited to see what he does from here on out. He's got a great, long career ahead of him.”

The memory of hitting that first home run will surely always stick with Rutschman, but how about the memento to go with it?

Rutschman’s blast landed in a sort of no-man’s land at Rogers Centre -- into a service area below the first level of seats -- and required a mad dash from bullpen catcher Ben Carhart.

When the ball left the bat, Carhart tracked its flight from his perch beyond the right-field wall. It landed about a foot shy of a fan’s outstretched glove. Then, the chase was on.

Carhart took off in a “dead sprint” out of the bullpen toward the service area and was the first to scoop up the ball. Nearby stadium employees saw him and asked, “Is that the ball?”

“And I’m like, ‘Yeah,’” Carhart said. “‘I'm giving it to Adley Rutschman.’”

No matter how many more there are for Rutschman, the first is finally in the books. And the ball is securely in his possession.