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White Sox see power potential in Rutherford

20-year-old prospect showing signs that have Chicago excited
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- This is a tale about a lack of power during two Minor League seasons produced by Blake Rutherford, the No. 99 prospect overall per MLB Pipeline and the No. 4 White Sox prospect.

To be honest, the 20-year-old didn't need to discuss the growth process sure to come behind his five career home runs and .398 slugging percentage in 510 at-bats to date. That explanation becomes unnecessary because of the high level of confidence shown by the White Sox front office in Rutherford's ability to become a complete offensive force.

CHICAGO -- This is a tale about a lack of power during two Minor League seasons produced by Blake Rutherford, the No. 99 prospect overall per MLB Pipeline and the No. 4 White Sox prospect.

To be honest, the 20-year-old didn't need to discuss the growth process sure to come behind his five career home runs and .398 slugging percentage in 510 at-bats to date. That explanation becomes unnecessary because of the high level of confidence shown by the White Sox front office in Rutherford's ability to become a complete offensive force.

"Physically he's a gifted player," White Sox director of player development Chris Getz said of the left-handed-hitting centerpiece acquired from the Yankees in last year's Todd Frazier/David Robertson/Tommy Kahnle deal. "He's putting together mature at-bats. He uses the middle of the field. He hangs in there against lefties. He's hitting the ball hard.

"It's just a natural learning curve. Over time he's going to figure out, 'OK, what pitches can I drive here?' Maybe figure out pitches he can drive to the pull side. Things like that. He's showing signs of it and we are getting a little bit closer, but Blake has been, I couldn't be more excited to have him in our system."

Video: Rutherford excited to join elite prospects in Chicago

Rutherford attended SoxFest at the Hilton Chicago this past weekend along with a plethora of top prospects situated at the White Sox rebuild core. It was just June of 2016 when Rutherford was the Yankees' top pick of the Draft at No. 18 overall.

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler pointed out how Rutherford shouldn't worry about a power stroke and in turn start moving away from his calling card offensively. He quickly added if Rutherford had gone to college, he wouldn't be eligible until the 2019 Draft, so there's plenty of room to grow.

Using White Sox Minor League outfielder Micker Adolfo's development as an example, Hostetler preached giving these high school players or high school-age players time to develop. That patience started paying off via Rutherford's impressive swings during the hitters mini-camp at Camelback Ranch in mid-January.

"He just has to figure out himself, and he's starting to get it," Hostetler said. "His mindset seems great. He hit some balls at the camp that rivaled some of these big, strong guys and eventually when the time comes, Blake's power will be just fine."

Rutherford looked noticeably bigger and a little taller at SoxFest. Even without the unwavering White Sox support and the same level of prospect hoopla surrounding Eloy Jimenez or Luis Robert, Rutherford doesn't seem worried.

"The ball is coming off a lot harder, and it's starting to show in BP and in the cages," said Rutherford, who put on about 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. "It's getting exciting for me, but I know there is still a lot of work to do, and it needs to get a lot more consistent. It's something that starts to show hopefully this year especially.

"I know that patience is key, and with patience is going to come the results I want. It's so early, but I'm excited for what the future holds. I feel really good: healthy, sturdy and ready to get the full season in."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox