The Brewers are now a team of Princes, but Mississippi southpaw Lex Rutledge is from the home of The King. You never know--maybe someday Tupelo will proudly bill itself as "the home of Lex Rutledge, 26th-round pick made good". At the very least, he'll have some great entrance music.
BCB: How’s it going?
LR: I'm doing good, how about yourself?
BCB: Not bad. So you prefer Lex to Felix?
LR: Yeah, I go by Lex.
BCB: Good deal. Can you describe what you throw?
LR: Well, lately my fastball has been 92 to 94. I throw a changeup around 78 to 80 and a curveball around 74 to 76.
BCB: In your draft video, it looked like you were throwing about 87 or 88. Did you gain velocity as the year went on?
LR: Yeah, that was about mid-season. It was also about the fourth inning. This past Saturday the Brewers area scout told me I was 92 to 94.
BCB: What kind of movement do you get on your curve?
LR: It's a 1-to-7.
BCB: Does it sound like they like your curve, or are they going to want you to go to a harder breaking ball?
LR: Well, it has its ups and downs at times. When I throw it right it has a hard break and usually get guys swinging at it down in the zone.
BCB: "Ups and downs." [laughs]
LR: [laughs] No pun intended.
BCB: The Brewers probably liked that you already threw a changeup.
LR: Yeah, I got that before my curveball.
BCB: Oh, really? That's pretty unusual. Do you have a good feel for it?
LR: I like throwing my changeup. I can usually throw it on 3-2. I didn’t start pitching really until this year, for school anyway, but that’s a story in itself.
BCB: Oh yeah?
LR: Well, just about our coach’s tactics.
BCB: So you were a hitter before?
LR: Yeah, I would like to hit if I could. [laughs]. But pitching I think is how I'll make it.
BCB: So what gave your coach the idea that you'd be a good pitcher?
LR: No one gave him the idea. He never pitched me, and all I wanted to do was pitch. I only threw 19 innings last year. But my high school team was number one in the nation last year by Baseball America. The guys in front of me were seniors, and he likes to give them a chance to play.
BCB: So you felt a little underexposed?
LR: Yeah, or I would have been about to go to the SEC, but no one was able to see me play.
BCB: That must have been really frustrating for you.
LR: Yeah. He didn't play any juniors last year but Chris Stratton. [Stratton] signed with Mississippi State.
BCB: And you feel like if you had played more, you might have gotten an SEC scholarship too?
LR: Yeah, I think that. SEC schools wanted to see me pitch this year, but I went ahead and signed. If I had played last year they would have seen me already. Some SEC schools offered me a walk-on spot because of my arm strength and being left-handed, but I wanted a scholarship and didn’t want to wait.
BCB: Went ahead and signed? With Samford?
LR: Yeah, Samford. I love Samford, though, and I wouldn't want to go anywhere else now.
BCB: Are you planning on going to Samford still, or would you like to sign with the Brewers?
LR: I’m not sure. I think the money just needs to be life-changing to not go to school right now.
BCB: Yeah, that makes sense.
LR: I think right now I would probably get fourth-round money, and I would like more, so they drafted me later for a summer-follow kind of thing and to see if I’m worth more. The Cardinals and Brewers both asked if I would go in the fourth and I said no.
BCB: Go in the fourth for slot money, you mean?
LR: Correct. What’s crazy weird is that Manny Parra was taken in the 26th round.
BCB: Yeah, but they had a longer follow period then. They could follow him all year. They'll only get to follow you for the summer. The Brewers really used the year-long draft-and-follow well. It's too bad they moved the signing deadline up.
LR: Yeah, it really is. But I'll just see what happens with it. I think I would like to go for the right money.
BCB: So really, it's up to the Brewers to decide if they think you're worth the money--you'll sign if they pony up the cash?
LR: Yeah, probably so. If I just put up numbers and show my fastball velocity consistently and throw strikes consistently I think they will.
BCB: Where will you be pitching this summer?
LR: For a local legion team, coached by Kirk Presley, if you know of him.
BCB: I don't; is he related to Elvis? Elvis is from your town, right?
LR: [laughs] Yeah, he’s his third cousin, but Kirk was picked 8th overall in ’93, with A-Rod’s draft class.
BCB: Ah, I see. Let me look him up.
LR: Okay. Wiki has a lot on him.
BCB: He never got out of A-ball; did he get injured?
LR: Yeah, they changed his arm slot up a bit and hurt his shoulder. He had two shoulder surgeries but never got it back.
BCB: That’s a bitch.
LR: Yeah, it was. He would have made it, I think.
BCB: So will the Brewers be following you constantly with your legion team?
LR: Um, I think they will, most of the time I pitch. There’s been talk of me maybe coming up there and pitching and all of them getting a look at me.
BCB: Do you think that's going to happen?
LR: I’m not really sure, but I would like to do that. The scout is going to get back to me.
BCB: Did you know the Brewers were interested in you before the draft?
LR: I did, but I honestly thought I would go in the third round, I was told, and when they asked if I would go in the fourth, I said no. I really thought the Cardinals were going to get me instead of the Brewers, but [there was] signability, and they don’t take much risk on high school pitchers.
BCB: So you were expecting the Brewers specifically to take you in the third round?
LR: Yeah, and I told them I didn't want to go past the third round. I probably should have said yes and made it negotiable. [laughs]
BCB: [laughs] Did you give them a specific dollar value?
LR: No, I never gave them a dollar amount, just round-slot money, I guess.
BCB: What is third-round slot value?
LR: I think around four to six [hundred thousand].
BCB: So if they offered you 400k, would you take it?
LR: I don’t think so. I’d like more, because after taxes that is around 325-ish. Actually more like 305.
BCB: So what dollar amount do you have in your head?
LR: I guess half [a million] or more. More of my parents’ number for me to skip college. [laughs] I just want to play ball.
BCB: If they don't give it to you, you should threaten to go play quarterback for the Vikings.
LR: [laughs] Yeah right--you wouldn't want me to throw a football, it looks like a dead duck.
BCB: Coming from Mississippi, are you Brett Favre fan?
LR: Yeah, my uncle is really good friends with him and has played golf with him. But I’m not a Southern Miss fan.
BCB: My relatives all live in Jackson, and there's a huge Favre cult down there. It's funny, he made lots of Mississippians Packers fans, but now Packers fans hate him.
LR: [laughs] Yeah, that's pretty wild, but I understand why. He should have retired when he needed to.
BCB: Indeed. So, speaking of football and late-round baseball picks, did you hear about this Florida State defensive tackle recruit the Brewers drafted? Jacobbi McDaniel. He's a 285-pound third baseman.
LR: [laughs] No, I didn’t. Dang. Does he even play baseball anymore?
BCB: He said he wants 1.5 million to sign, and now the Noles fans are freaking out because there's a report the Brewers offered him 800k.
LR: Wow. I wish they would offer me that. He must can hit.
BCB: Yeah, no kidding. Gain some weight and become a five-star DT recruit and you can make the big bucks.
LR: [laughs] I just don’t see that happening. Oh well, maybe I can throw 103 and get the big bucks like Strasburg.
BCB: Seriously. So did you grow up a Braves fan down there?
LR: No, actually a Cards fan. My whole family is.
BCB: Oh, really? You must have been disappointed they didn't take you.
LR: I was a little bit, but if I wanted to get what I wanted then the Cards taking me wouldn’t be the right thing for me. They were actually going to take me but just later, until the Brewers got me.
BCB: So as a Cardinals fan, you must hate the Cubs.
LR: [laughs] Already do.
BCB: Excellent, you'll fit right in. Well, thanks for being so candid, I really appreciate it. It's cool to get some insight into how the draft really works.
LR: You're welcome, and yeah, I’m still trying to figure it out how it works.
BCB: And pitch really well so they have no choice but to sign you.
LR: [laughs] I’ll try my best.