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Orioles' catcher, former top pick Adley Rutschman looking to build on strong rookie season

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BALTIMORE - Baltimore Orioles pitchers and catchers are set to report to Sarasota, Florida, for spring training in one week -- February 15.

And while the Birds have high expectations as a team, fans' focus will be flocking toward second-year catcher Adley Rutschman.

The former first overall selection by the Orioles, and baseball's top prospect, is not only ready to progress as a player, but also as a leader in the clubhouse.

"That's the great thing about being a catcher is by helping out in other aspects," Rutschman said. "I'm able to help out the pitching staff and encourage the guys who are hitting."

When Rutschman arrived in Baltimore, the Orioles started thriving.  

The Orioles were 17-25 before Rutschman was promoted to the Major Leagues and made his debut on May 21.

Baltimore then proceeded to surpass expectations by winning 83 games and played meaningful games into late September for the first time since 2016 - the Orioles last playoff  appearance.

"To see the energy come back is really refreshing and really cool. I think it makes everyone excited to get going," Rutschman said.

Rutschman battled .254 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 113 games last season.

He also finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

However, Rutschman's biggest attribute to the team this season will likely come with managing the Orioles' pitching staff, which added Cole Irvin and Kyle Gibson to the rotation.

Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is also projected to crack the rotation out of spring training.

"Grayson is a tremendous talent and I am excited to work with him again," Rutschman said. "I haven't caught him in a while so it will be fun to reunite with him. I'm excited to see what he can do because he is a very talented pitcher."

The Orioles play their first spring training game on February 25 against the Minnesota Twins.

The season-opener is at Boston on March 30, and the home opener is against the Yankees on April 6.

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