What Box Does Orioles Pitching Prospect Grayson Rodriguez Want To Check Before Promotion?

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 pitching prospect and No. 6 overall prospect, has had an extremely promising start at Triple-A Norfolk, and he hopes to soon build up to 100-pitch outings for the Tides.

In his first season at the Triple-A level, Rodriguez is proving that not only does he belong in Triple-A but that he is almost ready for the majors. In his first three starts, he has posted a 2-0 record, 1.26 ERA, 23 strikeouts and two walks in 14.1 innings.

Including his three starts this year, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander has a 21-7 record and a 2.34 ERA and 333 strikeouts in 230.2 innings during a four-year minor league career (excluding the 2020 season since the minor league season was cancelled due to COVID).

Even though the Orioles have started off the season with a record of 4-8, the club’s talented farm system allows for O’s fans to have some hope. Rodriguez is a huge piece of that hope. Still, fans would love to see him face a lineup three times in a game. Only once did he pitch into the sixth inning last year.

“That’s something I’ll be able to do this year,” Rodriguez said on Glenn Clark Radio April 19 when asked if he wants to face lineups three times before he makes it to the big leagues. “‚Ķ Technically, I’m still on a buildup program and under a pretty tight pitch count, but next here in the next month or two it’s going to open up fully. We’re going to go as deep into a ballgame as we can go to.”

He hopes to build up to 100-pitch outings before making it to Baltimore. He threw 75 pitches in his most recent start.

“Back in 2019 in my first season, we would have a pitch limit of 100 pitches,” Rodriguez said. “It’d be nice to get back up there a few times before stepping on that big league field in Camden Yards. Hopefully you don’t ever get to a game where you reach 100 pitches. You want to be a little more efficient than that.”

Rodriguez wants to keep his success rolling, and that should be easier for him considering his great start has allowed for him to gain even more confidence. He has faced former big league players like Greg Bird, Ryan LaMarre and Nick Ciuffo in the early going.

“Seeing those older guys, facing some guys that you’ve seen on TV before, knowing that you can get them out, that they’re just another player on the field with you,” Rodriguez said of his growing confidence.

Rodriguez has kept his routine the same at Triple-A, but he has noticed that hitters at the Triple-A level are a lot better at hitting their pitch and making pitchers pay for missing a spot.

“You get guys ambushing certain pitches or they’re taking fastballs right down the middle because they thought you were throwing a changeup. It’s a lot of guessing, I would say,” Rodriguez said. “In terms of them hitting their pitch, they’re a lot better at it, unlike lower-level guys. Basically, they’re not going to miss what they’re looking for.”

Rodriguez, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is getting a glimpse of what it is like to be a major league pitcher in the sense that the hitters do not let pitchers get away with mistakes. That is valuable for minor league pitchers like Rodriguez to understand before they make it to The Show.

But before Rodriguez is able to make his highly anticipated MLB debut, he has some goals he set for himself during his time in Triple-A beyond building up his pitch count.

“You kind of going into every season with little list of goals,” Rodriguez said. “Every year since 2019, I’ve said stay healthy, that’s the most important thing. Listen to your arm, make sure you can get through a season clean, so obviously that’s the first priority. The second is to go out and to get better each and every day.”

As mentioned before, Rodriguez is considered the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball. As such, the 22-year-old already faces high expectations for the future, but he does not seem fazed by the large expectations and pressure.

“I really don’t pay much attention to it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s somebody’s opinion. Back in 2018 in the draft, a lot of people didn’t think I was going to go where I went or they didn’t think I was good enough to go 11th overall, and now you kind of see the flip side of that. Nobody knows anything about your career, it’s just another label. It only matters what you do on the field. I just go out every fifth, sixth day and pitch the game, throw what I do and just keep it rolling.”

For more from Rodriguez, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Vanessa Garcia