Adley stuns Derby crowd from the left ... and the right

Rutschman crushes 27 homers as a switch-hitter but falls to No. 1 seed Luis Robert Jr.

July 11th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Adley Rutschman did not make it past the first round of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, but he sure put on a show.

With a power display from both sides of the plate, Rutschman smashed 27 home runs in an electric first-round matchup against Luis Robert Jr. of the White Sox, who bested Rutschman by hitting 28 home runs to advance to Round 2.

The Derby was a family affair for the Rutschmans, with Adley’s dad, Randy, on the mound feeding him fastballs and his mom and sister cheering in front of the dugout. Father and son practiced their approach earlier in the week when the O’s were at Yankee Stadium and were in sync from the start, with Adley blasting a 430-foot home run on the first pitch he saw from Randy.

Rutschman competed in his initial three-minute period as the only left-handed hitter in the Derby field and hit 20 home runs. Then, after a break, he switched to the right side of the plate and added seven more home runs in a 30-second bonus round afforded each hitter, clearing the fence on seven of eight swings.

The sellout crowd rewarded Rutschman, who was born three hours south of Seattle in Portland, Ore., with a standing ovation. The All-Star contingent on the field gave Rutschman props for his switch-hitting magic as well, with 2023 Derby winner Vladimir Guerrero Jr. cheering and pumping his fist in Rutschman’s direction and Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who was seated along the third-base line with the other All-Stars, rolling back on the turf, mouth wide open in appreciation when Rutschman began to torch the ball from the right side.

Robert, however, soon answered with a power show of his own, hitting 27 home runs in regulation and eliminating Rutschman from the competition with his first home run of the bonus round.

For Rutschman, the experience still brought nothing but good vibes.

Baltimore’s backstop, along with closer Félix Bautista, setup man Yennier Cano and outfielder Austin Hays, will represent the O’s on Tuesday in the 93rd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Rutschman was the 10th catcher to participate in the Derby, the 12th Oriole to do so and the first since Trey Mancini in 2021.

Earlier in the day, Rutschman remembered the first time he attended a Major League game, back when he was 8 years old and T-Mobile Park was still Safeco Field.

He had an upper-deck seat in right field to watch the Mariners play that day, and Adrián Beltré swatted an opposite-field home run. Rutschman can still recall the “surreal” feeling postgame of being able to step on a Major League field for the first time.

“You're sitting there and you just remember everything so vividly,” Rutschman said. “It’s one of those core memories.”

Even more surreal, Rutschman said, was the role reversal he experienced on Monday. Seventeen years after that summer day with his family, Rutschman was the one at the plate smoking pitches into the right-field seats.

… and the left-field ones.

“It's one of those things that you dream about as a kid, to be here now,” Rutschman said, of his first Derby appointment and All-Star nod. “It's crazy. I'm very fortunate, very blessed, to be in the position I'm in and to be able to be here right now.”