The crystal ball predictions of a Monday call-up for catcher Adley Rutschman fell through, as did any guesses that baseball’s top prospect would arrive in Baltimore to play for the Orioles on Friday. Instead, Rutschman is still with Triple-A Norfolk in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The timetable for Rutschman’s impending promotion for a major league debut is uncertain, although the clamoring from fans only grows by the day as he remains a minor leaguer. Manager Brandon Hyde said Friday, though, that calling up Rutschman will be independent of how the Orioles’ current catchers, Robinson Chirinos and Anthony Bemboom, are playing.
“The decision with Adley is going to be about Adley,” Hyde said. “They will call him up when they feel like he’s ready. It has nothing to do with how our guys are doing behind the plate, because they’ve done an absolutely fantastic job handling our pitchers.”
Rutschman, 24, might have made the opening day roster if he hadn’t suffered a tricep injury as major league spring training got underway. That setback required the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2019 to ramp up again, and he’s done it over the last month with time in High-A, Double-A and now Triple-A.
The date in which the Orioles secure an extra year of team control with Rutschman has already passed, although he could earn a full year of service time and therefore reach free agency sooner by finishing in the top two of Rookie of the Year voting, a provision added to the new collective bargaining agreement after this offseason’s lockout.
Rutschman played catcher three straight days between Tuesday and Thursday for the first time this season, although he’s out of the lineup entirely Friday for the Tides — likely a standard off day after a heavy workload.
With the Tides, Rutschman is hitting .233 but has slugged three homers, including on Tuesday and Wednesday. In 43 Triple-A games last season, Rutschman hit .312.
Chirinos and Bemboom have offered little offensive upside this season, barring the two-run home run by Chirinos on Thursday — his first of the year. Chirinos entered Friday with a .147 batting average, while Bemboom sits at .118.
But pitchers have continually praised the pair and credit them with helping increase the staff’s strike percentage.
“We’re extremely pleased with both guys,” Hyde said. “Unbelievably professional. Robby’s got a big track record. He’s caught in a lot of huge games and has done it for a long time. And Bemboom’s come as advertised, as just a defensive guy, off-the-charts makeup, he puts a ton of pride in putting a zero up every inning. So I’ve been really, really pleased with what we’ve done behind the plate. But the decision with Adley is going to be ultimately with when they feel like he’s ready.”
When Rutschman arrives, either Bemboom or Chirinos will likely make way.
“That’s going to be challenging,” Hyde said. “That’s going to be hard, because they’ve been ultimate team guys. And it’s going to be hard to see one of them go.”
Around the horn
>> Ryan Mountcastle said he is in line to return to the Orioles’ lineup Saturday when he’s eligible to be removed from the 10-day injured list. When swinging a bat the past few days, Mountcastle said he hasn’t felt the forearm pain that beleaguered him during the road trips in St. Louis and Detroit.
>> Left-hander Logan Allen, who was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for left-hander Nick Vespi on the 40-man roster, cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.