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Orioles sign No. 1 overall pick Rutschman

@JoeTrezz
June 24, 2019

Against the brick wall backdrop of the Orioles’ executive offices, Adley Rutschman took pen to paper Monday, smiling wide. Across the table, club executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias extended a hand. The completed deal now gives the Orioles' rebuild a major boost. That was the scene as

Against the brick wall backdrop of the Orioles’ executive offices, Adley Rutschman took pen to paper Monday, smiling wide. Across the table, club executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias extended a hand. The completed deal now gives the Orioles' rebuild a major boost.

That was the scene as the Orioles officially signed Rutschman on Monday, three weeks after selecting the former Oregon State catcher No. 1 overall in the MLB Draft. A deal had been expected, and it became imminent when Rutschman posted an Instagram story from Baltimore over the weekend. He received a record $8.1 million signing bonus, a source told MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, breaking the previous record of $8 million that Gerrit Cole received from the Pirates as the top pick of the 2011 Draft.

The No. 1 overall pick this year was valued at $8,415,300; no top overall selection has received full slot value under the current system. The club has not confirmed the deal’s value.

The Orioles announced the deal on Twitter on Monday night and plan to introduce Rutschman in a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Oriole Park. The Orioles will also give Rutschman an in-game greeting during Tuesday night's contest against the Padres, which will mark Manny Machado’s first game back in Baltimore.

Orioles Draft Tracker

Arguably the most successful first-round draft pick in Orioles history, Machado will see his return to Oriole Park coalesce with Rutschman’s first visit. Rutschman is the second No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, along with right-hander Ben McDonald in 1989. Considered one of the best catching prospects in recent memory, Rutschman was long viewed as the top player available before the Orioles plucked him from a field that included Texas prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn and Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday.

“It’s hard to know where to start with Adley Rutschman,” Elias said on Draft night. “He’s a switch-hitting catcher, with power, plus he can hit from both sides with an unbelievable statistical resume. … He’s everything you want, and he plays a premium defensive position with athleticism that gives him versatility to play elsewhere, as needed. Adley is a future fixture for this organization.”

Rutschman won College World Series Most Outstanding Player honors as a sophomore for the national champion Beavers, then followed that up with a junior season that earned him Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Awards, given annually to the country’s best amateur players. In 2019, Rutschman hit .411 with a 1.326 OPS, 17 home runs, 76 walks and just 38 strikeouts in 57 games, while leading all Division I players in walks and OBP.

The Orioles consider Rutschman’s defensive acumen behind the plate near big league-ready right now. Elias also lauded his makeup after meeting with Rutschman this winter in Corvallis, Ore.

“He strikes you with his intelligence, presence, thoughtfulness,” Elias said. “He has a good mind for the game. Good motor to him, energy level is strong. You can tell he’s the captain of that team, whether it’s officially or unofficially. That stuff just comes through when you meet him and talk to him. He was very impressive.”

The Orioles also agreed to terms with second-round pick Gunnar Henderson, according to multiple reports, including one from Callis. Callis reported the club went more than $528,000 above slot value to convince Henderson to forgo his commitment to Auburn, signing the prep shortstop for $2.3 million.

Baltimore has now agreed with 31 of its 41 players chosen in the Draft, and nine of its first 10 selections. The Orioles’ highest-selected player still unsigned is third-round pick Zach Watson, a center fielder out of Louisiana State. The deadline to sign 2019 draftees is Friday, July 12, at 5 p.m. ET.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.