You can never have too much pitching, and perhaps with that in mind, the Orioles made their first pick in the 2018 draft, grabbing a Texas high school righty, Grayson Rodriguez, at #11 overall. Hopefully, the Orioles have found a member of their future rotation with this pick.
There had been something of a consensus among the mainstream draft writers like Keith Law and MLB Pipeline that the Orioles would be looking at a pitcher, quite probably a high school pitcher. As the picks ahead of them played out, they had their choice of a couple of well-regarded high school players who had surprisingly fallen to their pick, like Arizona lefty Matthew Liberatore and California righty Cole Winn. There was also University of Florida righty Brady Singer who fell down into their range.
For the second straight year, the Orioles ended up going with a high school pitcher with their top pick. It just wasn’t one of the players that the industry expected before the draft. Rodriguez, from Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, was described on the MLB Network draft broadcast as one of the “pop-up players” in this draft class, meaning that his 2018 performance did a lot to improve his draft stock after he had not been thought of so highly before the spring came along.
The Orioles, of course, found themselves picking 11th overall due to their 75-87 record. That’s bad, as all who watched that team can attest, though it’s not so bad as to get one of the top five talents of the draft, like #1 overall pick Casey Mize, taken by the Tigers. The Orioles are in play for that next year, though. They’re currently in line to draft #1 in 2019, and they haven’t even started trading people yet.
The slot value for this 11th overall pick is $4,375,100. That doesn’t mean that the Orioles are going to pay this amount to Rodriguez. Pool money can be moved around freely to other players. They could pay him more or less, depending on what he wants in order to sign and what agreements the Orioles reach with subsequent picks.
Rodriguez may have been called a pop-up player on the draft show, but that doesn’t mean that the prospect writers saw him that way. Keith Law and MLB Pipeline both had Rodriguez as the #22 prospect in the class - so, a bit of a reach at #11, perhaps. Unless, of course, the Orioles shrewdly grabbed a good player who others should have more strongly considered. No, I don’t actually believe that, but I hope it’s true anyway. By the way, Fangraphs rated him even lower, as the #36 prospect in the draft class.
The 6’5” Rodriguez gets the following description from Law:
Rodriguez has been up to 97 with a power curveball, and he’s big like Stewart is, 6-foot-5 and 230-plus, though he has more effort in his delivery, and there’s at least a little concern that his trouble repeating it will eventually point him to the bullpen. He also hasn’t shown much of a third pitch to date.
As we know, the Orioles are so great at developing third and fourth pitches for their starting pitching prospects. Wait, no, they aren’t.
The MLB Pipeline capsule on Rodriguez gives something of a different perspective:
Rodriguez’s fastball sits at 92-94 mph with heavy life that should turn wood bats into kindling. He has an array of promising secondary pitches, with most scouts preferring his low-80s slider to his mid-70s curveball, though the latter has nice shape. He hasn’t had much need for a changeup but shows the potential to have an average one. ... Rodriguez is a decent athlete who uses a controlled delivery that allows him to provide strikes on a regular basis.
Well, let’s hope that this scouting report on Rodriguez is the more accurate one about the pro potential for this pitcher. Check out the photo of Rodriguez that accompanies this scouting report. Don’t get on his bad side.
Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich addressed the pick to O’s beat writers:
“Grayson Rodriguez is a future power pitcher with an advanced delivery and feel for all of his pitches. He has command of four above average pitches, can shape two distinct breaking balls, and attacks the strike zone,” said #orioles Director of Scouting Gary Rajsich.— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) June 5, 2018
This description does not sound like either Law’s or MLB Pipeline’s, so let’s hope this is the most accurate one yet! You know that I won’t be holding my breath on that one.
The Orioles select again at #37 on draft day 1. They do not have a second round pick as a result of signing Alex Cobb.