By Cody Wilcox
The Baltimore Orioles selected right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez with the 11th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft June 4. Here are five things to know about the 18-year-old prospect.
1. Following An Orioles Tradition
Rodriguez joins a franchise that has selected a pitcher in the first round during eight of the past 10 drafts. Ranked as the No. 13 pitching prospect and No. 22 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, Rodriguez was drafted out of Central Heights High School (Nacogdoches, Texas).
“He can pitch in the strike zone. He can pitch out of the strike zone,” scouting director Gary Rajsich said. “It’s very impressive for his age. … The intangibles are all there. I talked about checking off all the boxes. You can check those off, too: his mental toughness, his emotional maturity, his competitiveness, all those factors.”
2. Impressed With Camden Yards
Rodriguez visited Baltimore to sign a contract with a $4.3 million bonus June 12, which marked his first trip to Charm City. Rodriguez told reporters he was impressed with Camden Yards.
“This ballpark is definitely one of my favorites now that I’ve seen it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful place. I walked in, and it kind of takes your breath away how pretty it is. … I can’t wait to play here one day.”
Rodriguez was also welcomed by Jimmy’s Seafood.
3. Anxious To Get Started
Rodriguez officially signed his letter of intent with Texas A&M in November 2017 after verbally committing nearly two years earlier. Despite a family tradition at the school, Rodriguez was anxious to sign with the Orioles.
“Aggie tradition is pretty strong, but, obviously, when you get picked No. 11 in the draft, it has a pretty hefty impact on your decision on whether to go to school or go professional,” Rodriguez told Glenn Clark Radio.
4. Bulking Up
Listed by the Orioles at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Rodriguez put on about 20 pounds of muscle between his junior and senior year of high school, which he said gave him more confidence. He can reportedly reach the high 90s with his fastball and hopes to increase his velocity.
“I had a big jump this past offseason,” Rodriguez said. “Hopefully, I’ll do the same this fall to get up to the triple digits [in velocity] and hopefully stay there.”
5. Central Heights’ Highest Draft Pick
On June 4, Rodriguez officially joined Dane Phillips, drafted to the Seattle Mariners, and Trey Haley, drafted to the Cleveland Indians in 2008, as the only three players to be directly drafted out of Central Heights High School, according to River Avenue Blues.
Rodriguez is the highest-drafted player out of Central Heights and will look to join fellow East Texan Chris Davis — who grew up approximately 70 miles away from Rodriguez in Longview, Texas — on the Orioles’ roster in the near future.
Until then, Rodriguez will head to the Gulf Coast League in Sarasota, Fla.
Photo Credit: Rich Dubroff/PressBox