From Falmouth to MLB’s first overall pick: Former Oregon State Beaver Adley Rutschman recalls lessons from the Cape

In the summer of 2017, a two-sport athlete crossed the country headed toward the east coast to spend his summer in Massachusetts. Not to vacation, but to play baseball.

His freshman year was jam-packed. In the fall, the placekicker for the Oregon State Beavers specialized in kickoffs. At the end of the football season, he tallied 20 touchbacks averaging 59.5 yards per kick.

Then, spring rolled around. The six-foot-two 208-pound catcher from Sherwood, Oregon batted .234, only tallying 49 hits in 209 at-bats with the Beavers.

For a freshman, starting 56 games at one of the top collegiate baseball programs meant, he had the talent to be in the limelight. But Adley Rutschman needed to take the next step.

“He needed to make an adjustment after his freshman year,” Oregon State’s 2019 interim head coach Pat Bailey said. “He’s a hard worker. We knew he could do it.”

Adley Rutschman went to the Falmouth Commodores to take part in the Cape Cod Baseball League. This was a true test to see if Rutschman could fix his approach and face off against the top collegiate baseball players in the United States.

“Summer ball is a lot like pro ball in a lot of ways,” Rutschman said. “With the traveling every day and just playing with a new team. You try and learn everyone’s personalities on the Cape.”

Former Commodore Adley Rutschman makes contact for Falmouth. Photo by Ryan Bowman.

The OSU catcher joined the Commodores in late June. The majority of players had already arrived earlier in the month. Rutschman not only needed to learn about his teammates but his host family.

“Our last player wasn’t the best so we weren’t going to host after that,” Adley’s host parent Julie Matta said. “But someone talked us into one more try, just to give it a shot. He was coming in late because of the College World Series, so we were talked into it and it worked out perfect.”

The Mattas have two sons named Michael and Joshua. Both are untraditional left-handed catchers. Adley coached the two giving them some advice for when they get on the field.

“Adley taught them that whenever they started a game at catcher to go up to the umpire and shake his hand,” Julie Matta said. “It showed respect to the umpire before the game.”

You could always find Rutschman with Michael and Joshua playing wiffle ball or MLB the Show on Playstation 4. The two were like younger brothers to Adley.

“He really seemed to enjoy his time at the house,” Matta said. “He never really went out besides to games and practice. His parents did come here but it always seemed like he was having a good time with the boys.”

But when play time was over, Rutschman put on his game face and was ready to compete.

Besides learning about his teammates, the then rising sophomore had to learn manager Jeff Trundy’s system of coaching.

“The coolest thing about him was that he understood that everyone’s trying to figure stuff out on their own,” Rutschman said about Trundy. “Eventually people like him are not going to be there to help, so you gotta figure it out on your own.”

In the 20 games he played with the Commodores, Adley Rutschman batted .164 with eleven hits and four RBIs. Not the best numbers, but in summer ball, the lessons are more important than the numbers.

“For him, he didn’t have the greatest summer up here,” assistant coach Brett Becker said. “But to his credit, he really, really learned what he needed to improve on and what he needed to do to get better. It wasn’t that he wasn’t talented. I think for the game up here taught him what he needed to improve to take that next step and boy did he do it.”

Adley Rutshcman plays in R.E.D. Friday game for Commodores. Photo by Ryan Bowman.

In his sophomore season, the difference was significant. After finishing up in the Cape League, Rutschman focused solely on baseball. Instead of the measly .234 batting average from the season prior, Rutschman batted .408 with nine home runs and 83 RBIs. He, alongside his teammates, lead Oregon State to a National Championship.

His junior year, he only got better with a .751 slugging percentage and a .411 batting average. This lead to him being selected by the Baltimore Orioles as the number one overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.

“Everyone was there with me,” Rutschman said about draft night. “You could just feel the energy and it was just an unbelievable experience to be able to go through that with everyone.”

But Rutschman will never forget his time playing at Arnie Allen Diamond at Guv Fuller Field.

“For me, being able to play for a great coaching staff, a great coach like Trundy and just a lot of great players who are now playing pro ball prepared me well,” Rutschman said. “And obviously it was an amazing summer.”

Rutschman didn’t forget his host family either. He sent a game model bat with his signature and an inscription thanking them for hosting him during the summer.

The Mattas have hosted a lot of players in their time on Cape Cod, but no one will beat Adley Rutschman.

“He was my favorite,” the youngest brother Joshua Matta said.

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Maxwell Trink can be reached at Follow him on twitter @MaxwellTrink.


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