J.J. Cooper on what kept Adley Rutschman at No. 1? – Steve Melewski

When I interviewed Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper this week about the publication’s new top 100 prospects list, it was clear that while the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman was ranked as the outlet’s No. 1 prospect, he was not an easy choice to be No. 1.

As good as Rutschman is, and Baseball America also rates him with three 70-grade tools, two other players had strong cases for No. 1. They are Seattle’s 21-year-old outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez from the Dominican Republic and Kansas City’s 21-year-old shortstop prospect, Bobby Witt Jr.

Rodriguez, who was ranked No. 2, played 74 games last year between High-A and Double-A ball and batted .347/.441/.560/1.001 with 19 doubles, two triples, 13 homers and 46 RBIs.

Witt, rated No. 3 prospect, played in 123 games between Double-A and Triple-A ball batting .290/.361/.575/.936 with 35 doubles, four triples, 33 homers, 99 runs, 29 steals and 97 RBIs. He filled up the stat sheet, but still finished third in the final ranking.

Cooper said that some years there is a clear No. 1, like in 2021 with Tampa Bay infielder Wander Franco, who was No 1 with Rutschman No. 2 last January. And some years – like this one – there are three players, all with strong cases for the top spot. He said there were some interesting and lengthy debates among the Baseball America staff before they kept Rutschman where he ended the 2021 rankings – still…

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