After entering 2016 as the top-rated prep position player in the Draft, Rutherford lasted 18 picks because of questions about his signability and age (he was one of the oldest high school players in his class at 19 years, one month on Draft Day). He signed for $3,282,200 -- a Yankees record for a drafted hitter -- and posted a .570 slugging percentage in Rookie ball during his pro debut. Sent to the White Sox in a four-player package for Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson in July 2017, he slugged .383 in his first two-plus seasons after the trade.
Rutherford still has the smooth left-handed stroke and all-fields approach that attracted scouts when he was an amateur, but his power has yet to come close to materializing as hoped. Almost all of his modest in-game pop comes to his pull side and he makes a lot of weak ground-ball contact. He spent time in the Arizona Fall League during the offseason trying to use his legs more in his swing to create more power, but he hit just .179/.281/.385 in 21 games.
Compared to Andre Ethier and David Justice when he was younger, Rutherford will have to step up his production to become a big league regular. He's an average runner who's good for an occasional steal, but he's nothing special on the bases or in the outfield. Though he broke into pro ball as a center fielder and has spent most of his last two years as a right fielder, his below-average arm figures to land him in left field.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Rutherford entered 2016 as the top-rated high school position player for the Draft, then dropped to the Yankees at No. 18 because of concerns about his signability and his age (at 19, he was old for a prepster). He slugged .570 in Rookie ball after signing for $3,282,200, a franchise record for a hitter, but managed just a .395 mark at two Class A levels the next two seasons. The White Sox acquired him in July 2017 as the headliner in a four-player package for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
Rutherford still impresses scouts with his smooth left-handed swing, pitch-recognition skills and willingness to use the entire field. He makes repeated contact and club officials believed he could start to hit for more power in 2019 after adding strength in the offseason, though that hasn't happened. He has the size, strength and bat speed to produce 20 homers per season if he can stop hitting so many grounders and drive the ball more consistently.
Compared to the likes of Andre Ethier and David Justice, Rutherford could have at least average tools across the board when he's fully developed. After playing primarily center field in his first two pro seasons, he spent the bulk of his time in right field last year. His average arm isn't a liability but ultimately could land him in left field.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
Rutherford began 2016 as the top-rated high school position player, then got surpassed by fellow California outfielder Mickey Moniak (who went No. 1 overall) and fell to the Yankees at No. 18 because of worries about his age (19 years, 1 month on Draft day) and signability. He tore up Rookie ball after signing for $3,282,000, a franchise record for a hitter, but batted just .260/.326/.348 with two homers in 101 Class A games in his first full season. New York sent him to the White Sox in July as part of a four-player package for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
Though Rutherford failed to post big numbers in 2017, there were positives. He recognized pitches, made consistent contact and showed a willingness to use all fields, all of which bode well for him hitting for a high average. Chicago believes his size, strength, bat speed and left-handed stroke will translate into at least average power once he learns which pitches he can drive.
Sometimes compared to a more athletic version of David Justice, Rutherford could have average or better tools across the board. He figures to slow down a bit as he matures physically, so he's unlikely to remain in center field despite spending most of his first two pro seasons there. He has enough arm strength to handle either outfield corner.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
After entering 2016 as the top-rated prep position player in the Draft, Rutherford got passed by fellow California outfielder Mickey Moniak and slipped all the way to the Yankees at No. 18 overall amid concerns about his age (19 years, 1 month when he got picked) and signability. Signed for $3,282,000, a franchise record for a hitter, he immediately looked like a steal by batting .351/.415/.570 in Rookie ball. He has continued to impress in 2017, and the Yankees used him as the key prospect to swing a July trade with the White Sox for Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
The most productive offensive player on the U.S. national 18-and-under team that included three other seven-figure bonus babies and won the 2015 World Cup in Japan, Rutherford is a rare talent who has the chance to hit for plus average and power. He has a smooth left-handed stroke with plenty of bat speed, recognizes pitches well, shows signs of patience and uses the entire field. While he currently employs a line-drive approach, he has big raw power and will tap into it once he adds some loft to his swing.
Rutherford entered pro ball as a solid runner and a center fielder, but he should slow down as he starts to fill out and most scouts believe he'll wind up on an outfield corner. Evaluators grade his arm anywhere from fringy to above average. He has drawn comparisons to a more athletic version of David Justice.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
The most productive hitter on the U.S. national team that won a gold medal at the 18-and-under World Cup in Japan last September, Rutherford began 2016 as the top-rated high school position player in the Draft. Eventually passed by fellow California outfielder Mickey Moniak, who became the No. 1 overall pick of the Phillies, Rutherford still was held in high regard. The Yankees took him with the 18th selection and paid him a well-over-slot bonus of $3,282,000, a club record for a position player.
Rutherford has everything he needs to hit for significant average and power. He has a smooth left-handed swing, bat speed and power, though he won't fully tap into his raw pop until he adds some more loft to his stroke. He recognizes pitches well, shows signs of promising plate discipline and generally uses the entire field.
Presently a solid runner who broke into pro ball as a center fielder, Rutherford could lose a step as he matures physically and wind up on an outfield corner. His arm draws average to solid grades from evaluators, so right field could be his ultimate destination. Some scouts liken him to a more athletic version of David Justice, who won a World Series ring with the 2000 Yankees.