Column: Chaminade’s Blake Rutherford will be the center of attention on the baseball field, with good reason

Chaminade senior is top pro prospect


Standing in the West Hills Chaminade High batting cage protected by a net with a video camera pointed directly at Blake Rutherford, you’d think nothing perilous could happen.

Suddenly, a microphone resting against the net was struck by a ball whacked by Rutherford and went flying. It was like a dart hitting a balloon at a carnival game. Rutherford didn’t win a prize but the powerful impact left a sportswriter shaking his head in awe.

For the next four months, Rutherford is going to be the focus of much attention from scouts, media and fans. He’s considered one of baseball’s top high school prospects in his senior season and a possible top 10 draft pick come June.


Cal State Northridge Coach Greg Moore spent several weeks in September watching Rutherford as the USA 18U national team won a gold medal in Japan.

“Blake is such a steady person that I think he’s wired for the ups and downs and opinions that will flow around him,” Moore said. “On the field is where he’s most comfortable. Eliminating the distractions and focusing will be the toughest obstacles just like any 18-year-old in his shoes.”

A 6-foot-2, 196-pound outfielder who batted .435 as a junior with four home runs, Rutherford signed with UCLA last November. His skills are so good that that it will be surprising if Major League Baseball lets him get away.

“I really enjoyed how Blake goes about it on the field,” Moore said. “He’s wired to be a professional treating every day the same but also working to become better. You talk about a five-tool player. He has those skills but also understands the game of baseball.”

Rutherford said he looks forward to the challenge of balancing baseball with the daily off-the-field scrutiny.

“I’m just going to try to have fun and play like I have the last three years,” he said. “The most important advice I got is helping my team win, stay relax and calm and try my best.”


His coach, Frank Mutz, will help him communicate with scouts, and his father, Roy, will be ready to be a sounding board for good or bad moments ahead.

What’s certain is that Rutherford came home a changed person from his experience in Japan. Dealing with pressure, dealing with loud fans, dealing with pitchers throwing 90 mph — it was an experience he won’t forget, including a three-run home run in the ninth inning against South Korea to help save the U.S. from elimination.

“It was the most surreal moment and greatest moment because I was able to help my team advance,” he said. “The experience I had this summer was the best experience I’ve had baseball-wise in my life. We were down a lot, so I got to learn how to face adversity. I got to learn how to stay focused, tune out distractions, like the crowd and umpires, because out there, it was everybody vs. USA. We had to come close as a family and team and I’ve learned to be a leader.”

The high school season moves into full swing this weekend. Defending Southern Section Division 1 champion Huntington Beach is heavily favored to repeat thanks to a talented pitching staff led by UCLA commit Hagen Danner and USC commit Nick Pratto, a transfer from Santa Ana Mater Dei.

In the City Section, defending Division I champion Woodland Hills El Camino Real returns its co-City MVPs, pitcher Jeremy Polon and catcher Eric Yang. League rival Chatsworth has been impressive in winter ball.

Meanwhile, Rutherford will be scrutinized and analyzed with every at-bat.

“At times, it can get a little overwhelming, but I look at it I’m blessed to be in this situation,” he said.


Twitter: @LATSondheimer