Adley Rutschman's situation is a bit different than it was a year ago.
Last July, he was the fresh-faced No. 1 overall pick touring Camden Yards and doing repeated interviews before he debuted for the Gulf Coast Orioles on July 20, 2019.
Now, he's got dyed blonde hair and is one of the newest additions to the Orioles' 60-player pool for the upcoming season. Under normal circumstances, Rutschman's debut wouldn't have happened in 2020 -- and perhaps not even on Opening Day in 2021. But these aren't normal circumstances.
Rutschman was recently added to the Orioles' player pool for the upcoming season, meaning the organization's top prospect could make his debut at Camden Yards far sooner than anyone anticipated. The team's development program kept him and other players involved for the last few months, while baseball waited.
And now, he can bake salmon and pesto chicken for dinner.
"I feel like the program just did a tremendous job as a whole of keeping guys engaged," Rutschman said on a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon. "We had Zoom calls every single week. Multiple ones if you wanted to, just doing like yoga sessions, meditation, mindfulness meetings, cooking and some book clubs there as well. We had a lot of options and it really helped guys stay together during that time."
Rutschman, who said with a smile it was nice to see players out of their baseball element, now has a much bigger challenge at hand, with the prospect of his debut now tangible.
The highest level of baseball Rutschman has played at was Single-A baseball. Now, he's standing in the batter's box at Camden Yards -- which could be a preview of the next few months.
"Being able to stand in the box and see big league arms and just take it all in for the first time, it's something you never get back," Rutschman said. "It just reminds me of the first time I stood in at the College World Series. The first time I stood in at a college stadium with the Beavers. You just never get that first time back. But just to have that first feeling, it's unbelievable and just so exciting. You never get it back."
Rutschman was sent to minor league camp before Spring Training was shut down in March, but now he'll be on the Orioles' 60-man player pool list the same week secondary camp opens in Bowie.
Now, he's competing for a chance to take major league at-bats in the late summer of 2020 -- something no one saw coming.
"I have no idea and it's not really up to me," Rutschman said. "I am just here to do the best I can and get better every day. Whatever comes as a result of that is meant to be. I'm just happy to be here right now."
As for excitement about Rutschman's impact on the Orioles, however, it's important to note that expectations should be tempered.
"Well this is Adley Rutschman's first full year -- and he's not even getting it," manager Brandon Hyde said. "So it's going to be a loss in development time with him, so I'm not going to speculate on when he's going to make his major league debut or when that is going to be."
Hyde did add, however, that he's liked what he's seen from Rutschman over the last few days in camp, extending back to Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida.
"He's a pro," Hyde said. "He looks great, he's swinging the bat really well, catching some major league pitching the last couple days, he's done a nice job of also putting in a lot of work and time in the last few months."
But in the same way the Orioles are focused on the development of young talent for the future, Rutschman has the same goal in mind.
Whether or not Rutschman makes his debut early in the season, as it draws to a close, or even at all, isn't the point of this year for Rutschman. It's about getting live at-bats from major league arms, catching various pitchers in the organization and preparing himself for more consistent major league at-bats.
And the better Rutschman handles that, the quicker those at-bats at Camden Yards will become commonplace.
"As far as right now, being at Camden Yards and getting to hit on a big league field, there is definitely adrenaline going on right now," Rutschman said. "When you get on a big league field for the first time and are hitting off some of the big league guys, it's definitely an adrenaline rush for me, just being my first time."
Stay connected to the Orioles with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE ORIOLES NEWS:
- John Means: Opening Day starter
- Surgeries: Blach, Martin to miss season
- 2021 schedule: Looks like 2020's
Adley Rutschman prepared for major league debut, if it comes this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington