Sent over from the Yankees in 2016, this White Sox prospect is proving he is first-round-pick-potential and could be expected to make his debut in 2020.
In July of 2017, the White Sox and Yankees pulled off a blockbuster trade. The White Sox sent third baseman Todd Frazier, closing pitcher and former Yankee David Robertson and reliever Tommy Kahnle to New York.
Seventh in the White Sox Top 30, 77 in MLB Top 100 last season, the 21-year-old was drafted 18th overall in the 2016 MLB draft by the Yankees. Rutherford showed promise in the Yankees rookie league hitting a combined slash of .351/.415/.570 with two teams in 2016. In the middle of his 2017 campaign, he was dealt to the White Sox and started his journey with Low-A Kannapolis.
He began to break out on the scene, however, after his season with High-A Winston-Salem where he hit a slash of .293/.345/.436 with 78 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 2018.
Rutherford was not known to be a power hitter, mostly sought after for his contact and getting on base ability, but his power numbers have grown steadily since becoming a professional. With three home runs his first year, he ended with seven in 2018.
His 2017 began a bit underwhelming, which prompted the Yankees to be okay with parting with him considering the talent they were getting in return. But in the coming years, it may seem they gave up more than they got.
Rutherford has above-average bat speed and has the ability to use the entire field. He is a great push hitter and can pull the ball when he can. He can play all three outfield positions, recording 13 games in center field and 15 in left last season. But it seems he will be used primarily as a right fielder playing 74 games in the position in 2018.
If you want to categorize Rutherford as a right fielder, he as above average speed. But considering he plays left and center, his speed could be considered average, perhaps slightly below. But even then, 15 stolen bases is pretty impressive.
He has been compared to a more athletic David Justice, but for White Sox fans, he could be compared to a slightly slower Scott Podsednik. Podsednik had the ability to use the entire field with great bat speed. He was fast on the base paths and in the outfield. And when it was needed, Podsednik could summon the power to drive the ball out of the ballpark.
There are many options the White Sox can take advantage of in the near future, and the expendable Rutherford is one many fans and Rick Renteria can agree will be one the most fun to see play. But unfortunately, we are not expected to see him until at least the 2020 season.