First-Round Pick Rutherford Signs With Monarchs

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A first-round pick with major-league experience is joining the Kansas City Monarchs for 2024.

Blake Rutherford, whom the Yankees drafted 18th overall in 2016 and played in the big leagues for the Washington Nationals in 2023, has signed a contract with the reigning American Association champions.

The 26-year-old outfielder is the second player with MLB experience to sign with the Monarchs for the upcoming season, joining Yermín Mercedes. Rutherford and Mercedes were teammates in the White Sox organization.

Rutherford played 16 games with Washington in 2023, all in the outfield. He owns a .279 batting average, 55 home runs, 53 steals and 26 triples in seven MiLB seasons.

The Monarchs’ 2024 home opener is Thursday, May 16 from Legends Field in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I like a lot of things about Blake. He can play center field, he’s athletic, he’s got a big-league pedigree, he’s ultra-competitive,” Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra said. “He’s dedicated to his craft and extremely motivated to get back to the major leagues.”

A star at Chaminade College Preparatory School in West Hills, California, Rutherford was a top prospect heading into the 2016 draft.

Rutherford played with Team USA at the 2015 WBSC Under-18 World Cup in Osaka. He hit .345 for the tournament to help the US to the gold medal.

After being drafted by the Yankees, Rutherford made his pro debut that year in the Gulf Coast League and was promoted to the Yankees Appalachian League affiliate soon after.

Rutherford earned a .351 batting average and .986 OPS in 2016. He began 2017 with Class A Charleston, playing in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

The Yankees traded Rutherford to the White Sox ahead of the 2017 trade deadline. He went to Chicago with Tyler Clippard, Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo while Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle were dealt to New York. Rutherford finished the 2017 season with Class A Kannapolis.

Rutherford was promoted to High-A Winston-Salem for 2018, earning Carolina League Post-Season All-Star honors. He batted .293 and stole 15 bases in 115 games that season.

The White Sox moved Rutherford up to Double-A Birmingham for 2019. He played in the prestigious Arizona Fall League following that season, earning a spot in the AFL’s Rising Stars game.

Rutherford did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic. He spent 2021 and 2022 with Triple-A Charlotte, batting .271 with 13 home runs over 115 games in 2022. He elected free agency following the season.

The Nationals signed Rutherford in January 2023, and he began the season with Double-A Harrisburg. He was promoted to Triple-A Rochester on June 17 and made his MLB debut with Washington on August 4. He collected six hits in 16 games with the Nationals, spending the rest of the season in Triple-A.

For more on the Monarchs, visit MonarchsBaseball.com.