Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is the favorite to go No. 1 overall when MLB’s first-year player draft commences on Monday.
On Friday, we saw just how feared he is in the college ranks.
The 21-year-old junior was shown the ultimate sign of respect during an opening round NCAA tournament game against Cincinnati. Rutschman joined the likes of Barry Bonds and Josh Hamilton as one of the few known players to be intentionally walked with the bases loaded.
Rutschman, who entered the game with a .419 batting average and 17 home runs, was given the unique free pass in the seventh inning with Cincinnati leading by three runs.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 1, 2019
The obvious thinking from Cincinnati’s perspective was to not let Rutschman, a switch-hitter with power from both sides, beat them.
He didn’t. However, what made this situation truly unique, even from MLB’s instances, is that Oregon State had no outs in the inning and was therefore set up for a big inning, which it delivered. The Beavers ended up plating four runs to temporarily take the lead.
It’s a decision that might have been second-guessed and perhaps even regretted had Cincinnati not rallied. The Bearcats scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to win the game 7-6.
Rutschman would bat again as the tying run, but was retired on a fly ball. He finished 1 for 3.
The Barry Bonds treatment
This comes just days after the 21st anniversary of MLB’s most famous intentional walk.
On May 28, 1998, San Francisco Giants slugger and eventual home run king Barry Bonds was given the same treatment by then-Arizona Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter.
Today in 1998, Barry Bonds was intentionally walked with the bases loaded 🤯 pic.twitter.com/hTETi74c6s
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) May 28, 2019
With the bases loaded and Arizona leading by two runs, Showalter ordered pitcher Gregg Olson to intentionally walk Bonds to willingly force in a run.
The plan worked. Olson escaped the jam without further damage. But the only aspect people really remember is that Bonds was considered dangerous enough to give away a run, while also giving the opponent another runner, in order to take away his at-bat.
From that point forward, whenever a batter was willingly pitched around in an unusual situation, it was called the “Barry Bonds treatment.”
Other notable instance
Since then, only one other MLB hitter has been given the full Bonds treatment.
In 2008, then-Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon made the call to intentionally walk Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded with two outs and a four-run lead. That worked out for the Rays, but it certainly added to Hamilton's legacy.
Will the Orioles draft Rutschman?
While it’s clear Rutschman is considered the consensus top player in the draft, there are some questions about whether the Baltimore Orioles will draft him.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias says the team is considering four possible choices. In addition to Rutschman, those players include Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., University of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, and Georgia high school shortstop C.J. Abrams.
It could come down to Baltimore’s confidence in getting a contract signed. The Orioles have $13,821,300 to spend on the first 10 draft picks. The recommended slot bonus for the top overall pick is $8,415,300. That could make things interesting.
Nonetheless, it shouldn't be long at all before Adley Rutschman's named is called.
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