Where Will Rutschman Rank Among MLB Catchers?

Where Will Rutschman Rank Among MLB Catchers?

Written by: Nick Lobraico
Follow him on Twitter: @LobraicoNick
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Adley Rutschman College Highlights

Adley Rutschman

Age: 22   B/T: S/R   Height: 6’2” Weight: 216 lbs ETA: 2022

Hit (L)Hit (R)Power (L)Power (R)FieldRunArmFV
Present / Future Grades

Adley Rutschman is the best catching prospect in the minor leagues, but how will he stack up against the big leaguers?

Of Rutschman’s two swings, he looks better from the right side: he’s more comfortable and tends to square up the ball more. I consider his righty swing to have a lower floor and higher ceiling as far as the hit tool goes; it’s more of an uppercut, and he starts his hands pretty high, near his neck. Compare that against a compact, level left-handed swing with hands at his shoulders, and it’s not so hard to see that his righty swing is subject to more variation.

In college at Oregon State, Rutschman’s K% varied from 13.0 to 15.8, and his BB% ranged from 10.9 to 28.6. No matter what level he plays at, his discipline will always be with him. As for his power, there is an expected decrease from college to MiLB and MLB with wood bats instead of metal and against better pitching. Even then, he should still be able to slug over .500 in MLB.

Defensively, there’s not much to complain about. Rutschman has great instincts behind the plate to complement his rock-solid fundamentals. His arm is decent, and I expect it to be above average at his peak, but it is a “weakness” in terms of his overall defensive profile. Because of his great fundamentals and footwork, however, he always puts his body in the best position possible to make a strong throw. The repeatability creates a high floor for this tool.

Check out this interesting framing technique that can expand the strike zone for Rutschman’s pitchers:


A Fangraphs study on the 2018 season found that on the 20-80 scale, a 60 FV (or in MLB players’ case, present value) is equivalent to 3.4-4.9 fWAR. Because FV is a predictor of a player’s performance on their rookie deal, I took this range and multiplied it by six: a 60 FV player should accumulate between 20.4 and 29.4 WAR in his first six years. Then, I took active MLB catchers’ WAR/162 for their first six years in order to better measure true talent and not durability. Finally, the WAR/162 was multiplied by six to cover six years of service. Because WAR/162 is used instead of WAR, the boundaries may be slightly higher than 20.4 and 29.4.

Here is a list of catchers who fall near or inside this range:

  • Russel Martin: 33.5
  • Gary Sanchez: 29.8
  • JT Realmuto: 24.4
  • Mike Zunino: 22.5
  • Yadier Molina: 20.8
  • Christian Vazquez: 20.4

Not every player provides value in the same way, but they can all be put on one scale. In terms of current players, I expect Rutschman to be between Zunino and a young Russel Martin. Rutschman will most likely settle around Gary Sanchez, which is a good thing no matter how many times the two of them are booed by Yankees fans. 

There is a limit to his reasonable ceiling, however. Two players that exceed the set range are Buster Posey (46.6) and Yasmani Grandal (37.7). As a switch-hitting, great defensive catcher, it’s fair to say that Grandal is the representation of what Rutschman can be if he were able to reach his full potential.

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