A little less than five years after the Orioles selected Grayson Rodriguez in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, the 23-year-old is set to make his Major League debut after being called up from the Minors. With Rodriguez being recalled by the Orioles, let’s take a closer look at the new Baltimore right-hander.
A Look at Rodriguez
A first-round pick by the Orioles back in 2018, RHP Grayson Rodriguez has been tabbed to be a potential #1 starter for years for an organization that has developed a number of very good hitters in Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, and Adley Rutschman.
The 23-year-old dominated in his first full season in the Minors back in 2019, when he struck out 129 batters over 94 innings with Delmarva (A). Two years later in 2021, Rodriguez further cemented his status as arguably the game’s best right-handed pitching prospect when he struck out 161 batters over 103 innings and opposing hitters batted just .159 that year.
Had Rodriguez not spent most of the 2022 season on the IL, the right-hander might already be a starter in the Majors. Rodriguez missed most of the year due to a lat strain, but did come back to put up a strong end to what was an abbreviated season.
At his best, the 23-year-old boasts a very good fastball to go along with an impressive changeup, the latter of which has been ranked on the 20-80 scale as a 70 by MLB.com. Additionally, Rodriguez can beat hitters with a curveball and a slider.
Rodriguez did not make the Orioles’ Opening Day roster to begin 2023, as Baltimore opted to keep him in Norfolk (AAA) to begin 2023. In his lone start in the Minors, Rodriguez struck out two and gave up two earned runs in four innings. He did walk four, but Rodriguez has generally shown average to above-average command during his time in the Minor Leagues.
What it Means for the Orioles Rotation
It was only a matter of time before the Orioles pulled the trigger and called up Rodriguez. While the right-hander didn’t make the Opening Day roster, there’s no denying the talent that the young righty has for the Orioles. With four pitches that can get outs, as well as the ability to change speeds on a dime, it’s hard to find a pitcher in the Minors that has the ability and stuff of Grayson Rodriguez.
It appears that Rodriguez will step in to make his Major League debut on April 5, a game originally scheduled to be pitched by Kyle Gibson. Gibson was pushed to start on the 4th after originally scheduled starter Tyler Wells threw five innings of emergency relief for Kyle Bradish. Since Rodriguez made his only start of 2023 on March 31 against Durham (AAA), the Texas native will stay on turn and get a chance to make his Major League debut in his home state against the Rangers.
We’ll finish off with our fantasy thoughts on Rodriguez, who we named one of our fantasy rookie pitchers to watch in 2023. The 23-year-old’s stuff is Major League-ready and he does stand a solid chance of earning wins with the O’s. But, will he stay with the Orioles after starting this week? It’s unknown as this time, but it may depend on whether Bradish needs to go on the IL after taking a hard line drive off his foot.
On the other hand, a strong debut could make it much harder for the O’s to send down the righty.