By Noah Gatsik and Harris Yudin
Over the next month leading up to the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, Baseball Info Solutions will be publishing a series of position-by-position scouting reports from our Video Scouts for the top-50 collegiate draft prospects. Each player is graded by the 20-80 scouting scale, given a comprehensive evaluation, and assigned a floor and a ceiling comparison, which indicate–if a player makes the Major Leagues–the range of the type of player into which he can develop.
The first installment in this series is at catcher. While the position may be incredibly strong at the top, it doesn’t offer much in the form of depth.
Adley Rutschman and Shea Langeliers are likely to hear their names called within the first 15 to 20 picks, but odds are against another backstop coming off the board on Day 1. Both guys were projected top-five picks heading into the college season, but a midseason hand injury to Langeliers hindered his stock a bit. Regardless, they are both extremely well-regarded and possess the ability to rise through the minor league ranks rather quickly.
Adley Rutschman, C
Oregon State University (JR, 2019)
S/R 6-02, 216 lbs
Date of birth: 02/06/98
Hit- 55(60) Power- 55(60) Run- 40(40) Arm- 60(60) Field- 55(60)
Written by Noah Gatsik
Adley Rutschman has dominated NCAA baseball for the past two seasons. His 2018 numbers were impressive, with a slash line of .408/.505/.628 (1.133 OPS) in 67 games. He also hit nine home runs and walked 53 times with only 40 strikeouts. In 2019, his numbers have been even more absurd. Through only 38 games (as of April 24), his slash line sits at .415/.576/.797 (OPS of 1.373). He also has displayed an increase in power, hitting 13 home runs while maintaining his advanced strike zone awareness and plate discipline — 51 walks to only 26 strikeouts.
Rutschman has a large frame and a mature build with broad shoulders. He has a thick and muscular lower half while displaying above-average athleticism and body control. He was selected in the 40th round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners but did not sign.
Rutschman is a legitimate switch hitter. He is very sound mechanically. From the left side he has an open stance with his hands low, but keeps his shoulders square towards the pitcher. He uses a medium leg kick that squares off his stride while slightly dropping his hands at first movement. His lower half stays balanced and he transfers his weight well, displaying explosive hips. He leads with his top hand and stays inside the ball very well while generating plus bat speed. He displays a slight uppercut swing and generates good extension. From the right side, he uses more of a slightly open stance with his hands held higher sitting just above shoulder level while keeping his shoulders square to the pitcher. He takes his hands back and slightly wraps his bat at first movement while using a medium leg kick that squares off his stride. He delivers the barrel similarly with more of a true uppercut swing. He displays minimal head movement, and keeps his eyes on the same plane throughout the entirety of his swing from both sides.
Rutschman uses a gap-to-gap line drive approach, displaying the ability to hit for power to all fields. He is a confident and patient hitter with well above-average plate discipline and advanced strike zone awareness. He consistently barrels the ball, making hard contact and generating above-average carry and backspin. He sometimes shows a tendency to pull his hips too quickly, cutting off the outer half of the plate and causing himself to roll over on balls. He can also struggle with high velocity up in the zone.
Defensively, he is very solid behind the plate. He displays above-average athleticism and does an excellent job getting down and manipulating his body quickly to block pitches in the dirt. He also displays a plus arm and is aggressive in showing it off with an above-average transfer, and his pop times have reportedly ranged from 1.88-1.97 seconds. He does have a tendency to stab at the ball occasionally when receiving, but has made strides over the course of his college career at becoming a more patient receiver– which helps him profile favorably as a pitch framer.
Rutschman is a catcher with no concerns at all about a possible position change in the future. He has the all-around skill set at catcher that is extremely rare, and his performance has put him in position to be the first player selected in the 2019 MLB Draft.
Projection: Everyday MLB starting catcher with the potential to be a top-five player at his position.
Ceiling: Buster Posey
Floor: Matt Wieters
Draft expectation: Top-3 selection
Shea Langeliers, C
Baylor University (JR, 2019)
R/R 6-00, 190 lbs
Birth Date: 11/18/1997
Hit- 40(50) Power- 45(55) Run- 40(40) Arm- 70(70) Field- 60(65)
Written by Harris Yudin
After a disappointing sophomore campaign, Langeliers has rebuilt his draft stock despite missing a chunk of the 2019 season with a hand injury. Across 137 plate appearances this year, he has posted a .331/.404/.496 slash line with four home runs and three stolen bases. He carries a nine-game hitting streak into a weekend series against TCU, collecting 12 hits in 26 at-bats with three homers over that span.
The 21-year-old doesn’t have any standout tools offensively, but he has the potential to be at least an average hitter with above-average power. He stands crouched at the plate with his feet parallel to the pitcher, employing a small load and staying balanced through his swing. He keeps his hands tight, his weight back and his head on the ball, delivering a short, compact stroke and finishing with good arm extension. A quick bat and a good eye allow Langeliers to turn on fastballs inside and go the other way with pitches on the outer third, although he occasionally gets out in front of breaking balls. While he is not afraid to wait for his pitch, he can be a bit too selective at times.
He doesn’t possess overwhelming speed on the basepaths, but he’s not a liability and is athletic enough to warrant attention from the pitcher. That athleticism helps him behind the plate as well, where he projects to be a difference maker at the next level. He’s very agile, dropping down quickly to block balls with both his body and his glove. He keeps everything in front of him and absorbs the ball to not let it bounce away.
Langeliers is comfortable behind the plate, and while he doesn’t call his own games at Baylor, he has been lauded for his leadership and rapport with his pitchers. He offers up a clear target, receives the ball effortlessly and steals extra strikes with framing ability. His best tool is his plus-plus arm.
He controls the running game incredibly well, throwing out 33 of 53 potential base stealers (62.6 percent) since the start of his sophomore season. He possesses a lightning quick transfer with elite arm strength and accuracy, and even the threat of his arm is often sufficient enough to keep runners stationary. He is also adept at blocking the plate, securing the ball to make quick tags on incoming runners.
It is reasonable to believe that Langeliers could develop into a solid hitter with 15-homer pop, but even if his bat doesn’t make enough strides at the next level, the nation’s second-best catching prospect should have no trouble carving out an extended role in Major League Baseball given his defensive prowess. He is expected to come off the board in the first round, and could even hear his name called within the top 15 picks.
Projection: Elite defensive catcher who could move quickly through minor leagues.
Ceiling: Mike Lieberthal
Floor: Austin Hedges
Draft Expectation: Top-20 pick
Other catchers to keep an eye on:
Carter Bins, Fresno State
Kyle McCann, Georgia Tech
Maverick Handley, Stanford University