Even more so than the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby has become an occasion for baseball’s brightest stars to put on a fireworks display in front of a prime-time audience. This year, in Seattle, there will be hometown superstar Julio Rodríguez. Two-time champion Pete Alonso has also confirmed he’ll take part again.
And there’s Adley Rutschman, the Orioles catcher who will be returning to his native Pacific Northwest as an All-Star for the first time.
Rutschman will compete in this year’s Home Run Derby, he announced on Instagram on Monday, placing one of the league’s most intriguing backstops on an international stage to compete with other transcendent talents.
The 25-year-old has clubbed 11 homers this season, with eight of those coming as a left-handed hitter and three coming from the right side. Rutschman doesn’t know which side he will take hacks from July 10 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, but he thinks he’ll start on the left.
Rutschman’s father, Randy, will throw to his son in the derby. It’s something the two have talked about for some time, and to be able to do it in the stadium they used to attend games together as fans makes it even more special.
“I’m really excited,” Rutschman said. “It’s one of the things you dream about as a kid and now to be able to do it with my dad is awesome.”
It’s a fitting return for Rutschman, who grew up in Sherwood, Oregon, and attended Oregon State. The first MLB ballpark he visited as a child was then-Safeco Field in Seattle. On his previous trip to Seattle last year, scores of family and friends made the trip north from Oregon to root for Rutschman in person.
“It’s the best,” Rutschman said. “It means a lot. I know a lot of people out there. It’s basically home.”
Rutschman is the first Orioles player to compete in the Home Run Derby since Trey Mancini in 2021. Mancini finished second to the New York Mets’ Alonso, who also won the 2019 event.
Joining Rutschman in this year’s edition of the Home Run Derby are: Alonso, the Seattle Mariners’ Rodríguez, Tampa Bay Rays’ Randy Arozarena, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts and the Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.