Quinn Seidenman’s friends and family were busy Friday afternoon. So he came to see Adley Rutschman by himself.
Seidenman, a 17-year-old from Baltimore, said a handful of his friends and family couldn’t make the Orioles caravan event. So he headed out to White Marsh Mall on his own to get a glimpse of what he hoped was the future of Orioles baseball, wearing a custom black No. 35 jersey with Rutschman’s name gracing the back.
The Orioles hosted an event and visited various schools and locations around Baltimore on the first of a three-day tour. Among the attendees Friday were Rutschman, manager Brandon Hyde, Gunnar Henderson, Richie Martin and Cedric Mullins.
Two of the heartiest rounds of applause from Orioles fans came for Rutschman and Henderson, the Orioles first and 42nd picks from last June’s MLB Draft. After back-to-back 100-plus loss seasons for the Orioles, those two are now some of the biggest faces of the rebuild. It’s why Seidenman chose Rutschman’s jersey over anyone else’s, too.
“We’re (his family) Orioles season ticket holders,” Seidenman said. “We got some points for having the seats — one of the promotions was to get a custom jersey. I wasn’t super inspired by the current players. I thought it’d be cool to get an Adley jersey.”
With Rutschman not expected to break the major league roster out of spring training in March, there’s still months, and perhaps over a year, until he makes his MLB debut. So much, including his jersey number, is still in the air.
“I’m hoping he wears No. 35,” Seidenman said with a grin. “They’re expensive…I really hope he wears 35.”
For the fans that showed up, there wasn’t talk of the two previous seasons — despite the fact the Orioles will likely be one of, if not the, worst teams in baseball in 2020.
Instead, fans played cornhole with Mullins and watched Hyde and Rutschman pour beer for fans. For an evening, fans like Eric Breach were able to appreciate what the future could look like in Baltimore.
“It’s exciting that there’s young talent, that there’s young prospects, that there’s something to root for and hoping there’s a good future,” Breach said, while his three-year-old daughter, Nora, sat on his lap. “You’re hoping the young kids are able to grow together like Adley and Gunnar and DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez, all of them coming up. It seems like there is a bright future.”
Breach added he’s hopeful that, one day, he’ll be able to show his daughter pictures from Friday’s event down the line when all of the Orioles prospects have graduated to the majors.
“It’s fun because you know they’ll be here for a long time,” Breach said. “We just took our picture with Gunnar, so it’ll be something where if we have the picture, we can show her as they’re growing and get better, ‘Look, we met Gunnar at The Greene Turtle. And Adley was here. And Richie Martin. They’re all here.’ It gives her something to grasp on to.”
Rutschman, 22, is just one member of the Orioles’ farm system, which has three top 100 prospects according to MLB.com. With a second overall pick coming in June, more help is on the way, too.
Which is why Orioles fans packed The Greene Turtle to get a glimpse at what they hope will be the start of a rebuild well worth it.
“Really cool,” Hyde said. “Visited a few places before here. It’s really rewarding for not only the players and coaches to see the community. Being out in the community and seeing the passion for Orioles baseball, you lose sight of that sometimes when you’re in the grind of a six-month season.”
While the Orioles will struggle to stay clear of triple-digit losses once again in 2020, the appearance of Rutschman and Henderson made things better for at least one day.
Seidenman did eventually get what he came for and was able to get his picture with Rutschman.
“He told me he wants to wear No. 35,” Seidenman said with a smile, and a bit of relief.
Hope for the Orioles showed their faces on Friday, and they came in the form of a pair of prospects and handful of major leaguers still looking to earn their full-time spot. And for a few fans in attendance, they’re already ready.
“It’s going to make it worth it,” Seidenman said. “We’ve all sat through some tough seasons, but there’s always been hope. And I think this year, it’s starting to feel more real.”