Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez aiming to become Orioles' next young impact player
BALTIMORE- Over the past couple of years, the Baltimore Orioles have been atop the rankings when it comes to prospects.
Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is hoping to be the next Oriole to make an immediate impact.
Pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Florida for Spring Training on February 15, and many expect Rodriguez to be in the starting rotation when the Orioles open the regular season in Boston.
"It is just in my blood to compete. That's what I love to do," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez, the Orioles' 11th overall draft pick in 2018, started last season in Triple-A Norfolk with aspirations of being called up to the Big Leagues.
But on June 2, 2022, the Orioles announced their prized prospect would miss a significant time because of a right lat muscle strain.
At that time, he compiled a 2.09 ERA in 11 starts with the Tide.
He returned on September 1 as the Orioles organization eased him back into game action.
Now, Rodriguez said he is ready to take that next step in solidifying the Orioles' pitching rotation.
"I think it will be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to going out there and competing at the highest level," Rodriguez said.
The 6-foot, 5-inch righty from Texas mixes up four pitches, and can hit the upper 90s with his fastball, as well as a high-quality change-up, according to mlb.com.
Rodriguez said he worked to add a cutter to his repertoire that also includes a slider and curveball.
"Cutter, it gives hitters a little bit different look than a fastball," Rodriguez said. "It helps late in games when guys start to sit on fastball when velocity drops a little bit. A cutter gives them something else to worry about."
Rodriguez considers himself to be "intense" on days he pitches, and a leader on the staff when he is not pitching.
"I think intense is the right word," Rodriguez said. "I have a methodical process going into game days. The other four days, you are lifting up teammates, making sure you get your work done on the side. When your turn rolls around, it is all business."
Last season, the Orioles won 83 games, their most since 2016 – the last time they made the playoffs.
The batting order, highlighted by former top prospects Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, have the Orioles' fanbase excited.
Now, players and coaches are intrigued to see how baseball's top pitching prospect fares in the majors.
"Grayson is a tremendous talent and I am excited to work with him again," Rutschman said. "I haven't caught him in a while so it will be fun to reunite with him. I'm excited to see what he can do because he is a very talented pitcher."
In the mix for the starting rotation will be Tyler Wells, Rodriguez, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Austin Voth, and John Means, when he returns from his shoulder injury.
"In the big leagues, it is all about wins," Rodriguez said. "That's going to be our focus, to go out and win every night. Our goal is to win every game we take the field."
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