Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez made his first start of 2019 on Friday and it was a memorable one.
Two games into the minor league season, two noteworthy pitching performances from Baltimore Orioles pitching prospects. The Delmarva Shorebirds (A-Low) are opening the 2019 season in Lexington, Kentucky with a four-game series against the Legends. Friday night’s game saw the teams begin the Copa de la Diversión as Los Gallos (Roosters) de Delmarva and the Lexington Leyendas (Legends).
Friday’s game also marked the season debut of RHP Grayson Rodriguez. Rodriguez, the Baltimore Orioles #5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, made that debut a memorable one.
The Baltimore Orioles’ 2018 first round draft pick, out of Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, Texas, recorded his first win of the season with a five-inning scoreless gem. He scattered two hits, both singles, walked two and struck out 10 over those five innings.
Both the number of innings pitched and the number of strikeouts were career highs for the 19 year-old. His previous highs were 3.0 innings pitched (achieved three times in 2018) and five strikeouts. The five strikeouts came in Rodriguez’s final start of 2018 (a 3.0 inning no-decision on August 21, 2018) and when combined with Friday’s stats, give the young hurler 15 strikeouts over his last 8.0 innings pitched.
Rodriguez faced 19 batters Friday and needed 74 pitches (46 strikes) to get through his five innings. The start of the game did not look like it would be a memorable one, however, as he walked Lexington’s lead-off hitter and then surrendered a single to Nathan Eaton. Rodriguez recovered from that and a double steal by striking out the next three Legend’s batters (all swinging at strike three) to end the inning.
Three-up, three-down was the tone of both the second and third innings and Rodriguez recorded a swinging strikeout in each of those innings.
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Rodriguez’s fourth inning began with a single and a walk and ended with two strikeouts and a pop out to Shorebirds’ third baseman Andrew Fregia. The start was capped off by a three-strikeout fifth inning.
Rodriguez induced two ground outs and two fly outs in the contest. Other than the two batters he walked, only two Legends’ batters were able to get to a three-ball count; those counts came in the fifth inning.
Early indications are that Friday’s game is a continuation of Rodriguez’s first professional season (9 games, 19.1 IP, 20 K, 1.40 ERA). Yes, it is very early in the 2019 season but a dominant start like this breeds excitement. While all of Rodriguez’s starts cannot be expected to duplicate Friday’s, they certainly will be fun to watch.
Baltimore Orioles affiliates will play six games on Saturday, thanks to Friday rainouts for the Frederick Keys and Bowie Baysox. Top prospects DL Hall, Hunter Harvey, Dillon Tate, Luis Ortiz, and Cameron Bishop will all be in action today.