My 1st look at Blake Rutherford, CF, Charleston

Blake Rutherford, photo courtesy of Pinstripe Prospects/ Jarah Wright

Hey guys, I took a run over to Hickory Friday night and got my 1st look of the year at the Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees).  They’re in my top 3 along with Lakewood and Rome for the most talented teams in the Sally.  Charleston is led by high profile CF Blake Rutherford and he was very high on my list of players to see this season.  He didn’t disappoint.

Rutherford- Age 20, is listed 6’3″ 195 lbs, bats left and throws right.   He was in the discussion to go 1st overall in 2016 draft, out of high School in West Hills, CA (Los Angeles area)  but he slid to the Yankees at 18.  He could be a bargain there.

Rutherford looks pretty well put together, I guessed 6’2″ 190 lbs on the field.  He could add another 15+ lbs of muscle, though he may have to move to an OF corner as a result.

At the dish Rutherford hits from a closed, upright stance.  He’s quiet in the batters box pre pitch.  He’s patient and sees a lot of pitches.  His swing is picturesque and smooth. Its a linear with some length and he shows some quick wrists.  He’s letting the ball travel deep and is spraying line drives and sharp grounders around the diamond.  With the bulk of the contact up the middle.  With current approach the contact rate should hover around 80% and the hit tool could play as high as plus.   Though above average seems more likely.

The raw power is average right now but he’ll fill out and could reach plus at peak.  The potential is there for 20-25 HR’s.  Though it’ll likely top off in the upper teens with current approach.  To maximize the HR threat he’ll have to find some loft and start consistently turning on inside fastballs.

The speed is above average and I liked his actions in CF.  There was one shot to the right center field gap that off the bat I thought would split the fielders.  He made a nice running catch on it and displayed a very good 1st step.  I didn’t get a great read on the arm yet.  I’ll be seeing Charleston again in early June in Greenville and will update this if I can.  Based on what I’ve seen so far I think he’ll be fine in CF for the short and medium run (2-5 years).  With a shift to an OF corner in his mid to late 20’s.

Conclusion:  I enjoyed watching Rutherford, no super loud tool on display just a solid across the board ball player.  The Yankees could be getting a 280 ish hitter with 15 to 18 HR and 10 steals to go with a solid OBP.  For a prep bat he’s relatively low risk and should move pretty quickly.  Double-A by mid 2018 and the bigs by mid 2019 is certainly possible.

Chris Blessing is a minor league talent evaluator for Baseball HQ and a very good Twitter follow (@C_Blessing) he posted this Rutherford video after a recent look.

Next up on Notes is a Riley Pint scouting report that may land later today or tomorrow.  Cheers

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