Entering the 2023 Home Run Derby as the lowest seeded player, Orioles' catcher Adley Rutschman was tasked with taking down overall number one seed Luis Robert Jr. of the Chicago White Sox. As of July 4, the day the Derby participants were announced, Robert led the Majors in home runs.
Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman eliminated in first round of home run derby
A quick look at the rules of the derby: Competitors in the Derby get 3 minutes to hit as many home runs as they can, plus a bonus round of thirty seconds at the end of the round. Players who hit two or more home runs of 440+ feet get an additional 60 seconds. The player who hits the most home runs in the opening round advances to the semi-finals.
With his father pitching to him, Rutschman came out swinging, hammering 21 home runs from the left side of the plate during his three minutes of swings. Despite a strong three minutes, only one of his home runs went greater than 440 feet, and Adley would only receive a thirty-second bonus round.
Then Rutschman did something few people expected: he switched from the left side of the plate to the right for his final 30 seconds. Rutschman delivered, blasting 6 home runs on 8 swings for a total of 27 home runs. Rutschman's 27 home runs was third best of the eight first round competitors, trailing only hometown favorite Julio Rodriguez and Robert. He would have defeated two players who made it the second round: Arozarena, and the eventual champion, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
As great as Rutschman was, Luis Robert Jr. was simply better. The White Sox centerfield phenom started off slowly before catching fire halfway through his first three minutes. The real dagger was Robert hitting two home runs over 440 feet, and would have an extra 60 seconds to hit as opposed to Rutschman's 30.
As it turned out, Robert did not need the additional time, as he tied Rutschman 27 home runs in his first three minutes, and defeated Rutschman during his first 30 seconds of bonus time. Robert advanced to face Arozarena in the semi-finals. On the other side of the bracket, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. advanced to face home favorite Julio Rodriguez.
Nathan Ruiz summed it up well: Rutschman was outstanding. But Robert Jr. was even better.
There is no question that Adley Rutschman made Orioles fans proud on Monday night and represented the Orioles well. Now we can look forward to Tuesday night, where Rutschman, Austin Hays (batting seventh and starting in centerfield), Yennier Cano, and King Felix Bautista will look to continue proudly representing the O's and the City of Baltimore.
Thanks for a fun, albeit too short, Home Run Derby appearance, Adley Rustchman.