The Washington Nationals had several options with the 17th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. In the end, they settled on towering right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge out of San Jacinto Junior College.
Rutledge was seen donning the Nats uniform on national television as he was invited to the MLB Network studio for the event.
After the selection, he spoke about the emotions of getting drafted.
“It’s unreal,” Rutledge told MLB Network. “It was a long time trying to sit there nervously but it feels incredible right now and obviously, happy.”
The 6-foot-8 righty is the highest junior college selection since Bryce Harper, who was also selected by the Nats (2010). Go figure.
Rutledge clearly doesn’t regret his decision to transfer from Arkansas after his freshman season.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to transfer from Arkansas,” Rutledge said of his choice. “But looking back at it, I would do it 100 times. The stuff that I’ve learned at [San Jacinto] and how I’ve grown has been incredible.”
The pitcher is from St. Louis, just like a certain Nationals’ starter. And it looks like Rutledge has some early ambitions to pitch alongside his fellow Missouri native.
“I want to be teammates with Max Scherzer as soon as I can,” Rutledge said.
If he turns out to be even half the pitcher that the Nats’ current ace is, Mike Rizzo and the front office will have nailed this pick.
Right after the pick, MLB Network analyst and Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez, broke down the flamethrowing right-hander.
”Very imposing body, very imposing arm. I love literally everything about this kid,” Martinez said. “Power arm, power breaking ball, good movement.”
“A body that’s almost ready for the big leagues and the kind of stuff he has, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes it to the big leagues relatively soon.”
While he has potentially dominating stuff, one of the main concerns around Rutledge was his really short arm action. Sometimes, that can lead to more injuries down the road as it puts more stress on a pitcher’s elbow and Martinez noted this in his evaluation.
“The hitch on the elbow is the only thing that might concern a little bit,” Martinez said. “But this guy is an imposing body and he’s strong all over the place and his legs really hold him up on top of the mound.”
Overall, there’s plenty for Nationals fans to get excited about with Rutledge and his tantalizing stuff on the mound.
Hopefully, the team can get him signed, allowing him to put his impressive arsenal on full display in professional baseball.