MLB Draft 2019: Nationals select RHP Jackson Rutledge 17th overall

Chris Lingebach
June 03, 2019 - 9:41 pm
MLB Draft 2019: Nationals select RHP Jackson Rutledge 17th overall

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The Washington Nationals selected 20-year-old right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge with the 17th overall pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft Monday night.

Rutledge, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound sophomore went 9-2 with a 0.87 ERA – with eight earned runs in 82.2 innings pitched – and 134 strikeouts in 13 starts in his first season at San Jacinto (TX) College.

Chris Russell relayed this tidbit about Rutledge on 106.7 The Fan as the pick was announced: "I heard from a current baseball scout friend of mine with a different organization, so it's not the Nationals. And the first thing he said was, quote, 'That’s a nice pick. Big-ass arm.'"

Rutledge's 0.87 ERA led all of NJCAA Division 1, while his 134 strikeouts were good for second and his 14.59 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched ranked sixth. He pitched four complete games (two shutouts), allowed just one home run and issued just 30 walks in 2019.

In 2019, Rutledge was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball to the top amateur baseball player in America. He is the only 2019 semifinalist from a Junior College and is just the fourth Junior College player to be named a semifinalist in the award’s history.

Rutledge entered the draft rated as the No. 14 draft prospect by Baseball America and as the No. 12 draft prospect by MLB Pipeline. He is considered the No. 3 pitching prospect in the draft by MLB Pipeline, while Baseball America places him as the No. 4 pitcher and the second-best right-handed pitching prospect.

A St. Louis, Mo. native, Rutledge is a graduate of Rockwood Summit High School and began his collegiate career at the University of Arkansas, where he went 3-0 with a 3.45 ERA (6 ER/15.2 IP) in 12 games (three starts) for the Razorbacks in 2018.

"Very imposing body. Very imposing arm. I love literally everything about this kid," Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez said of Rutledge on MLB Network. "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."

"The hitch on the elbow is the only thing that might concern me a little bit," he warned. "It reminds me a lot of (Dodgers right-handed pitcher) Joe Kelly. When you see his elbow hitch a little bit, it reminds me a lot of Joe Kelly. But, this guy is an imposing body. I mean, he's strong all over the place and his legs really hold him up on top of the mound. So I'm not worried about his balance on the mound, because this kid is big all over the place."

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