SECAUCUS, N.J. — Adley Rutschman heard the chatter for months that he’d be the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
The switch-hitting Oregon State catcher just kept slugging at the plate and throwing out would-be basestealers all season from behind it — making it an easy call for the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
“It’s unbelievable,” Rutschman said from Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon, shortly after becoming the top selection. “Just to look back on how I was as a kid and seeing what my expectations were, how far I’ve come from there, it’s special.”
The announcement by Commissioner Rob Manfred at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Orioles led off the draft — they took LSU pitcher Ben McDonald in 1989.
“I met with all the teams over the course of the year and knew the Orioles were going to be the first overall,” said Rutschman, a 40th-round pick by Seattle three years ago. “As the year progressed and went along, it looked like it was a possibility more and more. It just worked out that way.”
With the No. 2 choice, the Kansas City Royals grabbed Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., son of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt.
The younger Witt has draft-day bragging rights on his father, who won 142 games over 16 seasons after being selected No. 3 overall by Texas in 1985.
“Now I’ve got him beat,” Bobby Witt Jr. said on MLB Network.
The rebuilding Orioles had the No. 1 pick after plummeting to the worst record in the majors last season. They’re at the bottom of the standings again with an 18-41 start — but getting Rutschman provides hope for a franchise that finished last in the AL East the past two years.