College | Story | 2/28/2019

Scout Take: Oregon State

Mike Rooney        
Photo: Adley Rutschman (Scobel Wiggins)

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Oregon State Beavers

What Happened: “Well it’s the same … old song.“ The Beavers lost three first round picks and two other mainstay position players, plus the program’s all-time strikeout leader on the mound. And their Hall of Fame coach is on what appears to be a one-year sabbatical. Yet the results are exactly the same: The Beavers dominated their opponents, going 8-0 on their annual season-opening trip to Arizona. Their pitching was predictably untouchable but the offense was much more productive than what may have been expected.

Carrying Tool: Pitching Depth. Oregon State offers every version of effective pitching that you could ever want. Front of the rotation, swing-and-miss power stuff? Meet Kevin Abel. Innings eaters with advanced pitchability? Meet Bryce Fehmel and Sam Tweedt. A game-shortening bullpen with depth and track record? Meet Christian Chamberlain, Brandon Eisert and Jake Mulholland. And here comes the next wave of arms with names like Andrew Walling, Nathan Burns and Jake Pfennigs. Through eight games this group owns an ERA of 2.25 with a BAA of .197.

Concerns: Run production. Offense was the No. 1 concern for the Beavers coming into the season. Adley Rutschman is a known commodity, as is Tyler Malone, who was one of the best hitters in Omaha a year ago. But that about sums up the returning production. Complicating matters is the fact that both Rutschman and Malone are extremely patient hitters. So when teams start walking these two, and they have 19 free passes already, who will drive in runs? This remains a valid question but the early returns are good: the Beavers are averaging nearly nine runs per game through the first two weeks.

Best Player on the Field: Adley Rutschman. Rutschman is the early favorite to be the first pick in this year’s June draft and there really isn’t a close second at this point in time. He checks every box athletically and his makeup is off-the-charts. From a profile standpoint, he is a switch-hitting catcher with power and arm strength and the aforementioned plus makeup. He also has video evidence of having tackled Christian McCaffrey in a Pac-12 football game (see YouTube). In other words, he is a mystical unicorn.

Fearless Forecast: This team has everything you need to make a run at Omaha. There is depth of elite pitching, and that includes a staff full of both premium stuff and command. While the offense remains a question mark, it does start with two premium talents in Rutschman and Malone. Most importantly, this team demonstrates an efficient and ruthless focus on playing winning baseball. They take good at-bats, play clean defense and run the bases with purpose. In other words, this team is already showing signs of the championship culture that makes this program special.

Player covered: Adley Rutschman, Beau Philip, Kevin Abel, Bryce Fehmel, Dylan Pearce, Christian Chamberlain, Sam Tweedt, Jacob Pfennigs, Jake Mulholland, Andrew Walling.

Adley Rutschman
Over the summer and heading into the spring of 2019 there was some debate as to who the true No. 1 overall player in the draft class was. Could it be high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. or the uber-athletic CJ Abrams, or even reigning Golden Spikes winner Andrew Vaughn? The presence and continued development of Oregon State backstop Adley Rutschman answers that question fairly emphatically.

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