There have been swings that indicated this was on the horizon, a phenomenon Adley Ratschman would soon achieve if Orioles fans were patient enough to wait.
Well, the wait is over.
The rookie catcher hit the first home run of his major league career in the fourth inning on Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, crushing a ball straight into center ground. Ratschman, the top prospect in all of baseball, also took care of his first two big league RBIs with that swing, driving home the Austin Hays.
Reutschmann has displayed that power throughout his minor league career, but his 84th plate with Baltimore took time to see the ball go out of the yard. His homer – descending from a high four-seam fastball from right-hander Jose Berrios – traveled an estimated 411 feet and dropped his bat at 103.2 mph, ending Berrios’ budding no-hits bid.
Ratschmann added a double in the seventh inning of the final 7-6 loss in 10 innings, a display of his inter-to-difference power and what could have been a sigh of relief.
“Naturally, whenever you hit your first home run, you definitely carry a load. You are able to breathe a little bit more,” said first baseman Trey Mancini, who is on home run chain duty on Wednesday. Were on.” He’s in a position to catch, which is double duty when you’re a rookie. But he’s handling himself so well, but I think after your first homer you can actually take some degree of relaxation and symbolic deep breathing.
When Ratschman arrived at the dugout, he found the team’s home run chain and was pulled for a long hug by the longest-serving Orioles player, Mancini. There is a lot of pressure on Rutschmann. The burden of reconstruction is placed on his shoulders – at least outwardly, as the organization tries to impose so much of an idea.
Mancini had not planned that hug. He felt it came naturally, and he remembered how former Orioles star Manny Machado hugged him when Mancini first went deep in 2016.
“It was like a full-circle moment,” Mancini said. “Just felt like Adley deserved and needed a hug right there, because it’s a great feeling.”
The Oregon State product’s first career home run occurred around the same time that Machado, now with the San Diego Padres, recorded the 1,500th hit of his career. Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the midseason deadline in 2018, a move that signaled the start of a rebuild, eventually leading to Reutsman becoming the first overall draft pick in 2019. The arrival of the young catcher signals the next stage in the big leagues. Reconstruction of the Orioles is underway – with potential change on the horizon.
Reutschmann has struggled to find results early in his major league career. In the 20 matches he entered on Wednesday, he scored .176 runs with four doubles and one triple. But advanced analytics has been more promising. According to Statcast, his average exhaust velocity is 90.6 mph, third-best among players with at least 50 plate appearances on the Orioles, and his expected batting average is .238.
“He’s batting well, he’s just not getting a ton of results,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Tonight he really turned the bat. He played two baseballs. It’s good to see him go out of his way on the first.”
Hyde said Reutschmann was doing cleanups on Tuesday and Wednesday as Mancini is out with a hand injury and outfielder Anthony Santander is on the banned list. This leaves a blank space in the middle of Ratshman’s fill sequence.
And in his second at-bat on Wednesday, he did just that, crushing the first long ball of his career.