Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Ops Kris Kline were both thrilled that right-hander Jackson Rutledge was there at No. 17 in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
“We had scouted him a lot since his [University of] Arkansas days,” Rizzo said of the 6’8’’ pitcher who spent one year with the Razorbacks before transferring to San Jacinto (TX) College, where he was (9-2) with a 0.87 ERA and 134 Ks in 13 starts and 82 2⁄3 innings pitched as a sophomore.
“We had to have seen him probably about 12 games this year start. He never missed a beat. His stuff never wavered. He was extremely efficient and consistent throughout the season.
“He showed power stuff. Mid-to-upper 90s fastball, with a good hard slider, a good curveball, and a developing change. His command is vastly improved since he was a younger pitcher.
“He’s finally growing into that big body of his and we think that he’s just scratching the surface.”
“First round talent and everybody in that room is extremely pleased that he was there when we picked at 17,” Kline said.
“All of his pitches, four pitch mix, they all come out of his hand in the same spot, same arm speed, and he’s got good stuff.”
Rutledge, 20, seemed equally pleased with the way things worked out.
“I grew up in St. Louis, so I was a Cardinals fan for most of my life, I guess I’m no longer a Cardinals fan, but I just really wanted to go to wherever I could make a difference,” he said.
“I think Washington is definitely a place I can step in and be a guy, so I’m excited for that and looking forward to it.”
This afternoon, Rutledge official became a part of the organization when he signed what is reportedly a $3.45M bonus, which is below the recommended slot value of $3,609,700 for the 17th overall pick.
“It’s really just a dream come true,” Rutledge told reporters in the nation’s capital, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“You get drafted but then I had to wait there. Not a fun time waiting, I’m ready to get after it and start playing some professional baseball.”
Rutledge said he’d been told he’ll head out to the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League affiliate and get his professional career started.
“I’m going to start out in Florida, at the GCL, heading there tomorrow,” he said. “That’ll be a short, getting-everything-back-into-shape sort of thing, then we’ll see where I go after that.”