Meet Your Mallards – Blaine Rutledge
While hockey is not a big sport across the country, it is certainly king in Minnesota. Kids are on the pond at a very early age and, if they stick with it, may get the chance to play beyond high school. Mallards infielder Blaine Rutledge had that chance.
Rutledge had offers to play in the USHL, a developmental league for players between high school and college. Many athletes have been drafted by NHL teams while playing in the USHL. Rutledge, however, wanted to go a different route.
“Baseball has always been number one for me,” said Rutledge. “I had more opportunities to play hockey but I wanted to play baseball.”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t getting many offers. Then, he heard from MATC coach Mike Davenport. “I spoke to him, saw the facilities and decided it was the place for me.”
What a place it was this past spring! Rutledge has developed from a lightly recruited high school athlete to a potential major league draft choice.
“I’ve heard from a number of different scouts,” said Rutledge, whose .423 average was among the top-50 in the nation in NJCAA Division-Two. He led MATC in nearly every offensive category while playing mostly at third base.
Rutledge is anxious for his Mallards experience to begin. He plans to work on the mental part of the game this summer and adds he’s looking forward to the exposure the league provides players and the experience. “My roommate at MATC (Craig Nyborg, a former Mallards outfielder) told me how great the baseball is. I’m also happy to still be working with C.J. (Thieleke).” The Mallards manager, Thieleke is an assistant at MATC. “I work mainly with C.J. at school. He’s great. He really keeps things on an even keel.”