Blake Rutherford

25-Year-Old OutfielderOF
Washington Nationals AAA
2023 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Blake Rutherford in 2023. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed a one-year contract with the White Sox in March of 2022.
Inks MiLB deal with Nats
OFWashington Nationals  AAA
February 3, 2023
Rutherford signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals on Friday.
Rutherford has already been assigned to Triple-A Rochester ahead of training camp. Once a top prospect for the Yankees and White Sox, the 25-year-old batted .271/.311/.428 with 13 home runs and eight stolen bases over 116 games at the Triple-A level in 2022.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Rutherford was the 18th overall pick by the Yankees in 2016. The Yankees traded him off a little more than a year later in the package to acquire Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Rutherford responded with a nice showing at High-A in 2018, and despite a step back in 2019, the White Sox still deemed the outfielder worthy of a 40-man spot last winter. Slated to start the season back at Double-A before the minor-league season was suspended, Rutherford did not debut in the majors in 2020 and instead spent the entire year at the alternate site. There were reports in the spring that Rutherford had bulked up to the tune of 12 pounds of additional muscle. The clock is ticking for Rutherford as the White Sox enter their competitive window.
When the Yankees trade a first-rounder, it's telling. They did just that with Rutherford in July of 2017, a little over a year after selecting him with the 18th overall pick. His first year in the White Sox organization represented a step forward, but he took a step backward in 2019, with his strikeout rate jumping six percentage points with the move up to Double-A (24.6%). Some scouts have put a 50 on Rutherford's raw power, but he struggles to get to it in games as evidenced by his 19 total homers in four professional seasons. One positive: Rutherford improved his efficiency on the basepaths (9-for-11) after getting caught eight times the season prior. He made just one start in center field, and in the outfield corners, this hitting profile is just not going to work. Rutherford will need to overhaul his swing or see a dramatic skills improvement at age 23 to regain the status of legitimate MLB prospect.
Rutherford, the 18th overall pick in 2016, had a resurgent year in his first full season in the White Sox's system. After totaling all of two home runs and 10 stolen bases in 101 games at the Low-A level in 2017, Rutherford chipped in seven homers and 15 steals in 115 games with High-A Winston-Salem. Rutherford uses the whole field well and his contact skills are advanced for a player his age (18.5 K% last season). His patience waned a bit last season (7.0 BB%), but he was still 20% better than the average Carolina League hitter. His power numbers will remain capped by a groundball rate north of 50%, and that's bad news for a player who seems destined to be a corner outfielder (just 13 starts in center field last season). Perhaps he will hit for a high enough average to make up for the middling power, but that should not be considered the likely outcome.
The Yankees did well to unload Rutherford in a mid-July trade with the White Sox while he still had trade value. He would look like a borderline non-prospect if we didn't know about his exploits as a high-school hitter. As one of the oldest prep hitters in the 2016 draft class, there were reasons to be cautious about assuming his success as an amateur would translate. That's why he fell to the Yankees with the 18th overall pick. He turns 21 in May and has five home runs in 134 pro games. That wouldn't be a huge deal if he were a plus runner who projected to stick in center field, but speed may no longer be a part of his game when he reaches the majors, and his glove fits best in left field, so he needs to do damage at the plate. He could always turn things around, but at this point there are dozens of outfield prospects in the lower levels who have similar upside/downside and are unowned in most dynasty leagues.
The No. 18 overall selection in the 2016 draft, Rutherford did not disappoint in 33 games in rookie ball. The 19-year-old slashed .351/.415/.570 with three home runs and 12 RBI. Rutherford's left-handed stroke should be perfect for the short porch in Yankee Stadium, though he is at least three years away from making an impact in the big leagues. As with most hitters coming straight from high school, Rutherford will need to adjust to the strike zone in the minors. He fanned 30 times in those 33 contests, though he walked 13 times as well, and was praised for his eye at the dish when he was drafted. The sweet-swinging lefty has superb bat speed along with the ability to spray the ball to all fields. Rutherford will likely start the 2017 season at Low-A Charleston and remains a high-upside outfield prospect in a Yankees system suddenly flush with talent. After Mickey Moniak, Rutherford is the No. 2 prep hitting prospect from last year's draft, and is a top-50 overall prospect for dynasty leagues because of his five-category potential.
More Fantasy News
Outrighted to Triple-A
OFChicago White Sox  AAA
April 1, 2022
Rutherford cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Charlotte on Friday.
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Loses 40-man roster spot
OFChicago White Sox  AAA
March 29, 2022
Rutherford was designated for assignment by the White Sox on Tuesday, LaMond Pope of the Chicago Tribune reports.
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Lands in player pool
OFChicago White Sox  AAA
July 14, 2020
The White Sox added Rutherford to the player pool Tuesday, Scott Merkin of reports.
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Optioned to Double-A
OFChicago White Sox  AAA
March 20, 2020
The White Sox optioned Rutherford to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday, Lamond Pope of the Chicago Tribune reports. He hit .154 (2-for-13) with a double, a walk and a run scored while in major-league camp.
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Focused on bulking up
OFChicago White Sox  AAA
February 23, 2020
Rutherford gained 12 pounds of muscle over the offseason, Scott Merkin of reports.
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