The Baltimore Orioles 2019 draft class will always be remembered for the number one overall pick, catcher Adley Rutschman, but it was full of impressive picks. Birds Watcher takes a look at several draft picks whose play should put them on the radar (third in a series).
The last Baltimore Orioles 7th round draft pick to make it to the show was catcher Caleb Joseph (2008 draft), so if not much was expected out of this year’s selection it would not come as a surprise. Outfielder Johnny Rizer performed in a way that may very well change those low expectations.
Selected out of Texas Christian University, the 22-year-old native of Cypress, Texas performed at a consistent level, both collegiately and professionally, in 2019. Maintaining that consistency will be the key to success for Rizer.
Rizer was selected following a season in which he slashed .315/ .383/ .535/ .918 with 47 runs scored, 11 homeruns and 39 RBI in 62 games for the Horned Frogs. He also stole eight bases in 13 attempts.
Rizer began his professional career, as most college draftees do, in Aberdeen (A-Short) Over a span of 27 games for the Ironbirds, Rizer slashed .305/ .374/ .537/ .911 with 16 runs scored, three home runs and 19 RBI. His time in Aberdeen was highlighted by a July 20th game against the Staten Island Yankees in which he went 5 for 5 with three runs scored and three RBI; he hit for the cycle in the game.
In the midst of a six-game hitting streak, Rizer earned a promotion to Delmarva (A-Low) on July 24th. He finished out the 2019 season by slashing .310/ .359/ .401/ .761 with 18 runs scored, one home run and 22 RBI over 36 games for the Shorebirds. He also hit .286 (2 for 7) with one run scored and one double in Delmarva’s two South Atlantic League playoff games.
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Rizer’s Delmarva highlight was an eleven-game hitting streak in mid-August where he hit .381/ .422/ .548 with 6 runs scored and 6 RBI; he hit his first Sally League home run during that span as well.
Overall, Rizer finished the 2019 season with a .308/ .365/ .456/ .821 slash line over 63 total games. His .821 OPS was the second-best among the 2019 draftees with 150 or more at-bats. He managed to strike out at a rate of 17% of his at-bats but only worked pitchers for a walk in just about 6% of his at-bats, a rate that will need to be improved upon going forward.
Maintaining a better than .300 batting average throughout his first professional season should gain Rizer notice and attention. Look for him to begin the 2020 season in Delmarva where the hope will be that he maintain the consistency he displayed this past season.
Like fellow 2019 pick Shayne Fontana, Rizer’s defensive abilities and athleticism figure to carry him up through the ranks. Will his bat stay hot and give him an opportunity? You can check out the earlier posts in this six-part series of recent Baltimore Orioles draft picks to watch below: