Up until this weekend, the first prep position player preview of our series was the favorite for the White Sox in mock drafts. That is no longer the case, but there isn't a consensus replacement, so you should still keep Blake Rutherford in mind.
Who is Blake Rutherford?
Rutherford is a high school center fielder out of Chaminade Prep in California. Having just turned 19 this month, Rutherford is older than most high school players he faces. There. Got that out of the way. That is really the only quibble -- he is older than his competition. The fact that he has been this good since he broke on the scene as a sophomore, that we should now disregard.
He has been so good for so long that it seems prospect fatigue has set in, leading teams to look right past him. "Sure he's good-looking, but I bet there must be something better, right?" This is the kind of thinking that kept me single 'til the age of 38. If he is still available at No. 10, then the White Sox should get on one knee and pop the question: Will you be our center fielder of the future?
Where does he rank?
What's his game?
Rutherford is a legitimate five-tool player. His worst tool is arm strength. That is average to above-average. MLB.com lists his tools: "Hit 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50."
He stands 6'3" and 190 pounds, bats left and throws right. He has long legs and square shoulders. There is still room for more muscle.
He drops the bat into the hitting zone and pulls it through. He has a slide step that is his go-to stride, but he also has a toe tap that he brings to his game when he has a plan. The tap can close his stance, and he can go a couple different places from there, driving the ball the opposite way or turning on it to the pull field.
His older brother Cole plays baseball at Cornell University. It is my guess that playing with his older brother and his friends is an important part of why he is so accomplished .
What does he look like?
Why would the White Sox draft him?
Well if he is there at No. 10, it's a good bet he is the Best Player Available. Other than Adam Eaton, who has a long contact, there seems to be room for him in the organization. He brings speed and defensive value that a player like Zack Collins lacks. He would add a left-handed power bat to the lineup, which is something the White Sox seem to always need. He's good-looking so he might bring chicks to the ballpark. That's not the worst thing. Already 19, he should be up sooner than your average high school position player, I would guess sometime in 2019.
Why would the White Sox draft somebody else?
Maybe his agent makes it clear that he has demands that the White Sox would not want to meet. Or he tells them simply don't draft him, we want to sign elsewhere. As a high school player, he has leverage that college players don't.
Where is he going in mock drafts?
Rutherford was the favorite for the White Sox a week ago, but a lot can change in a week.
Summing up, Blake Rutherford is very good. Maybe All-Star good. He will certainly be better than any pitcher on the board at No. 10. Frankly, I am surprised to hear talk of him being available there. The way he handles himself, in the batters box and in the field is that method and manner of a player far beyond his years.