Colorado Rockies’ Old Friend: Josh Rutledge Back In The Pacific Coast League


Mar 7, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop J. Rutledge (13) swings at a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training baseball game at HoHoKam Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After coming up with the Colorado Rockies, Josh Rutledge was traded away to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for relief pitcher Jairo Diaz over the winter. 

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Josh Rutledge was never supposed to be the shortstop of the future for the Colorado Rockies (we got a guy there…), but when he first came up in 2012, the Rox thought he might play well as a second baseman… or a utility infielder… or a guy with a good bat off the bench as a pinch-hitter. Or… well…

Rutledge put up nice numbers in the minors (in six minor league seasons, he has a career .314/.372/.481 slash line), and after slashing .274/.306/.469 in his big league debut in 291 plate appearances — with 8 home runs — Rockies fans started to get excited.

Holy crap! Tulo gets injured every year, right? So this guy Rutledge could be our backup-turned-starter-who-does-OK at shortstop, right? And if Tulo doesn’t get injured, Rutledge can be a second baseman, right?! 

That didn’t end up working out. Rutledge wasn’t able to replicate his rookie year performance at the plate (though he wasn’t awful in 2014), and after struggling on defense the last two years, the writing was on the wall for a guy beaten out by DJ LeMahieu.

Rutledge, who made 9 errors in just 69 games of part-time defensive work in 2014 and had a career -2.8 dWAR in three seasons with the Rox, was shipped to Los Angeles in return for Angels’ relief project Jairo Diaz. The Alabama product was expected to compete for the Angels’ second base job, but he was eventually beaten out by Johnny Giavotella, Grant Green, and Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston — a former Rockies farmhand who never played above AA before 2015.

Now, Rutledge is in AAA Salt Lake, the Angels’ PCL affiliate, dealing with the worst year of his minor league career. In 244 PAs, Rutledge is only slashing .245/.307/.364, and he’s made seven errors in the field in 49 games for the Bees.

The Angels had problems at second base to start 2015 but didn’t call up Rutledge, and after a slow start, Giavotella is starting to hit as their everyday guy.

Featherston, as a Rule 5 pick, will be up in the big leagues the rest of the year, too, so barring injury, it’s difficult to imagine Rutledge getting too significant of a shot, though certainly there’s the possibility.

There are things working in Rutledge’s favor: he can play all infield positions (and let’s be honest, if Rafael Ynoa can play left field, Rutledge could certainly become a super utility guy… right?). He can hit — or at least he has, a lot, in the minor leagues. He’s probably hit enough to get another chance or two from a club interested in a cheap option.

But he doesn’t field very well. And Rutledge will turn 27 in the first few weeks of next season. For him, like for other former Rockies we’ve caught up on, the window is closing, but there’s still plenty of time to forge a big league career. The Angels acquired him for a reason, you’d think, so it stands there’s a plan for his development. But as of now, he’s toiling in AAA, struggling with the worst minor league year of his career to date.

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