Having gone an abysmal 2-17 since John Means pitched his historic no-hitter on May 5, the last-place Orioles aren’t exactly bubbling with optimism as losses, poor performances, and injuries mount entering Memorial Day weekend.
But you don’t have to go too far to find good news as 21-year-old pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez was promoted to Double-A Bowie on Friday, meaning the top three healthy prospects in the organization — the others being catcher Adley Rutschman and left-handed pitcher DL Hall — will now be playing for the Baysox. The right-handed Rodriguez allowed one run and struck out nine over five innings for High-A Aberdeen on Thursday, which prompted general manager Mike Elias to promote the 2018 first-round pick ahead of his next scheduled start.
In five starts for the IronBirds this season, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Rodriguez has pitched to a dominant 1.54 ERA and struck out 40 batters over 23 1/3 innings. The Texas native features a high-90s fastball, a plus changeup, an above-average slider, and a solid curveball, a repertoire many believe will eventually make Rodriguez a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the major leagues.
Rodriguez and Hall being in the same Double-A rotation is an exciting development for Orioles fans currently watching a major league rotation that’s struggled mightily beyond the brilliance of Means in 2021. Hall, 22, was Baltimore’s first-round pick in 2017 and has posted a 2.81 ERA, struck out 31, and walked eight in 16 innings for Bowie so far this season.
The No. 1 prospect in the Orioles system and the first overall pick of the 2019 draft, Rutschman, 23, is batting .246 with four home runs, three doubles, 13 runs batted in, 21 walks, 19 strikeouts, and a .905 on-base plus slugging percentage in 93 plate appearances for the Baysox.