With the 17th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Nationals selected RHP Jackson Rutledge out of San Jacinto Junior College. JuCo players are among the more interesting demographics in the draft as they come with more of a “wild card” dynamic to the proceedings. Rutledge is no different as he has put up video game numbers with tantalizing and imposing frame to go along with some lingering questions.
If you like measurables in a draft prospect, Jackson Rutledge is your guy. He has an imposing 6’8, 260 pound frame on the mound and it comes with equally intimidating stuff. His fastball has routinely hit the upper 90’s and is deceptive due to his length and delivery. He has both a slider and a curveball that have served him well as strikeout pitches, although his command of them has been inconsistent at times. He also possesses a changeup, but it lags behind his other pitches and will need some work as a pro to be useful.
The ultimate questions with Rutledge lay with his command as well as his arm action. There is nothing in his recent statistical profile that makes one worry too much per se, but his time at Arkansas showed some wildness and scout wonder if he would get as many swings and misses on balls out of the zone against professionals. As a result, there is some reliever risk with Rutledge especially if he can’t develop a reliable changeup. His arm action is also pretty short, especially for a guy of his size, and that has some wondering how he will maintain his velocity as well as his arm’s health long-term. If everything clicks for Rutledge, there is big time upside...but he carries with him some risk as well.