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Former White Sox prospect Blake Rutherford makes MLB debut

by Joe Binder

A former White Sox prospect made his MLB debut on Friday night.

Blake Rutherford, an outfielder now in the Nationals organization, received his long-awaited promotion prior to Washington’s series opener against the Reds. Rutherford started in left field and batted sixth, finishing the night 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Rutherford, 26, was the highly-touted prospect to headline the 2017 deadline move that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle to the Bronx. Coming in as the Yankees’ third-best prospect at the time, Rutherford worked his way up the rankings to land at No. 37 overall on MLB Pipeline’s list and No. 45 overall by Baseball America at the season’s end. He followed up all of the hype by putting together his best campaign with High-A Winston-Salem in 2018, hitting .293/.345/.436 with seven home runs and 78 RBI.

In the following seasons, it became increasingly clear that Rutherford wouldn’t find the regular success that everyone had projected. In 2022, the 25-year-old was finally healthy and slashed .271/.311/.428 with 13 home runs, 58 RBI, 93 wRC+, and .739 OPS over 116 games. Despite showing off his durability, these numbers were nowhere near his early career stats, and the White Sox elected to release him at season’s end.

In 30 games for Triple-A Rochester this season, Rutherford found success at the plate. He batted .349/.400/.547 with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBI, 10 walks, five stolen bases, and 11 runs scored. Rutherford left the affiliate with an 11-game hitting streak in which he hit .366 (15-for-41) with five doubles, two RBI, two walks, three stolen bases, and four runs scored.

Prior to joining the major league squad, Rutherford had the following ranks in the Nationals’ minor league system: home runs (tied 4th, 11), extra-base hits (5th, 32), total bases (tied 6th, 137), doubles (6th, 19), hits (tied 7th, 81) and RBI (tied 7th, 43).

Rutherford began the season with Double-A Harrisburg, hitting .341/.390/.612 with 12 doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 28 RBI, nine walks, two stolen bases, and 23 runs scored in 32 games.

While things, unfortunately, didn’t work out for Rutherford in the White Sox organization, it’s still great to see him reach the major league level. We hope that he’s able to see regular playing time and find continued success with his new team.


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Featured Photo: © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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