We are kicking forward with our 2016 MLB draft coverage this morning with our next profile: California high school outfielder Blake Rutherford. A senior at Chaminade College Prep in Simi Valley, California, Rutherford has a UCLA commitment. Assuming he goes where his talent warrants, he won't make it to school.
Rutherford starts from a sound base of talent: all the physical tools within his 6-2, 190 build are at least a tick above average. A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Rutherford has above-average speed and above-average raw power. His arm is probably the weakest tool but it is still solid enough. Right now he plays center and runs well enough to stay there, but if loss of speed as he ages makes a switch necessary, the arm will still play in right.
Offensively, Rutherford's speed and polished bat would be attractive at the top of an order, but he's got substantial power too; you can dream on him being a 20/20 guy down the line. Observers have praised his bat speed and feel for hitting for years, but as he has matured physically the strength behind the swing has increased, leading to more game power.
In addition to frequent showcase performances and California prep ball, he has high-level experience against international competition with Team USA, holding his own in 2014 (.286/.429/.321 in 28 at-bats but as a sophomore playing behind guys like Daz Cameron, Trenton Clark, and Ke'Bryan Hayes), then hitting well in 2015 (.304/.377/.457 in 46 at-bats, leading team in homers and second in steals). He is also well-known for hustle and strong makeup. He also has the "terrific baseball name" tool.
The main issue for Rutherford is age: he'll be 19 on draft day, turning over the calendar on May 2nd. That makes him a bit older than ideal for a high school pick but that's not exactly his fault. As it stands, he is a player with a broad mix of tools and polished skills and a long track record with scouts on the big stages. Barring a catastrophe over the next few weeks, Rutherford is a lock for the first round and probably in the top 10 picks.
Video from The Prospect Pipeline