For the Orioles and Nationals, a rebuild looks a lot better with a star behind the plate | ANALYSIS

Jordan Lyles needed a second to ponder the question. Posed with a premise — if an organization could choose a top-level catching prospect or a top-level prospect at any other position, which should it select? — Lyles leaned back in his chair in the Orioles clubhouse, playing pretend general manager for a moment.

The decision depended on a belief that both players were virtually identical, other than their position. Lyles pointed out that scouting reports on high schoolers or college stars don’t always accurately predict how a player might turn out in five years.

With that said, the veteran right-hander came to his conclusion.

“If it’s close talent-wise, you go with the franchise catcher over the franchise anything, I think, because there are only 30 starting catchers, and now half the teams are platooning,” Lyles said. “Buster Poseys don’t come around [often], and those are more valuable long-term for organizations, I think, because you don’t have to continue to draft catchers early on.”

Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias appeared to agree with Lyles’ reasoning in 2019, when his first major decision in Baltimore was to choose catcher Adley Rutschman over high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who now plays for the Kansas City Royals.

A player with Rutschman’s skill set — the ability to switch hit with power — might’ve been selected with the top overall draft pick regardless of what position he played. But the prospect of finding a franchise cornerstone behind the plate was an added benefit.

While stars take many forms, a catcher plays a vital role handling the pitching staff on top of providing offensive production at the plate. So far, Rutschman has proven to be adept at both for the Orioles.

The Nationals, who finished a two-game series at Camden Yards on Wednesday night, went …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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