Throughout the season, Orioles Nation will highlight prospects as we see them play or are given reports by Scouts and people within the baseball industry. Our staff will have eyes on the Orioles’ prospects at all times, and you can find the latest updates for them in the Prospect Watch.
Lex Rutledge – LHP
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Fast-tracking bullpen arms are not going to thrust a team into the top 10 of organizational prospect rankings at sites like Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America. Hell, they may not even be mentioned. It is just the nature of the game to place players with high ceilings ahead of bullpen arms. While I will not argue with that sentiment, I do think that bullpen arms have their place in every organization. I think they are often overlooked. Lex Rutledge is a dude that throws high heat and was really impressive with Delmarva in 2013. It is tough to find a lefty that has a good fastball, curveball and slider.
Below is a scouting report of Rutledge, using the 20-80 scouting scale:
Physical: Tall and physically built, strong legs. Not much growth left.
Mechanics/Delivery: Compact delivery with good push-off and downward drive. Ball hides well against left-handed hitters. Smooth arm action. High effort and energy equals lesser stamina.
Fastball: 60; 93-96 mph with late life and some late cut. Can be fairly straight at times if he overthrows, but then it is clocking upper 90′s. Command lacks, otherwise it would be rated higher.
Slider: 50; 81-84 with hard dip and sweeping movement. Struggles to consistently command it and will often throw a “waste” pitch in the dirt.
Curveball: 60; 78-81 mph with good spin and drop-off-the-table movement. Grip will stiffen occasionally and the pitch will be left up in the zone.
Makeup: 60; Absolute competitor on the mound, Willing to do anything for an out. I will never knock passion and fire, although sometimes he can be too aggressive.
OFP: 60; Setup man, Back-end reliever
Realistic Role: 50; Middle reliever
Risk Factor: Low; Fast-tracking bullpen arm that simply needs to rack up innings to strengthen command and control.
The main concern with Rutledge will always be a lack of command. His mechanics are not awful, but he just does not have the strongest pitchability. He is simply too aggressive to be in a starter role. However, I think that aggressiveness can be bottled up and used in relief. There has been a noticeable trend with Rutledge struggling in his initial stop at each level, but he has turned on the light the next season at each stage. I suspect he will dominate at Frederick and move to Bowie at some point in 2014. It is unfortunate that Rutledge is probably not going to be a starter, but that does not mean we should simply write off his talent.