How did everyone enjoy the first day of the MLB Draft? The Orioles made a couple of selections, including taking HS RHP Grayson Rodriguez out of Central Heights HS in Texas. It was a pick that drew some surprise from media scouts and fans alike, but the team clearly feels confident that it’s the move for the future.
Below, some reaction on the pick and a couple of interesting storylines to track as his career with the team moves ahead.
The quote from the team
Ah, it wouldn’t be a major Orioles move without the famous “send a quote out to the media for them to post to twitter” move, would it? Here’s that from O’s Director of Scouting Gary Rajsich below:
“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 Director of Scouting Gary Rajsich.— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) June 5, 2018
That’s a fairly ringing endorsement, something we’ve heard a time or two from the Orioles brass. There’s not too much to take away from a member of the scouting department hyping up a pick (too many flashbacks to count), but it’s a good starting point.
Notes from the media
I assume Grayson Rodriguez was scouted by the Orioles' 2016 Scout of the Year, Thom Dreier, who covers south Texas. He's selected Tanner Scott and Donnie Hart, among others.— Jon Meoli (@JonMeoli) June 5, 2018
Tanner Scott and Donnie Hart, both plus arms who have made an impact for the Orioles. A pretty interesting note from Meoli there.
#Orioles Grayson Rodriguez has a beautiful FB. Easy Velo. Going to take some time to develop but could be a biggie at the end of the day. Hopefully, he doesn't get the dreaded O's arm disease, where his arm falls off and Dr. Andrews reattaches it.— Chris Blessing (@C_Blessing) June 5, 2018
This seems to be a pretty consistent trend with those who tracked Rodriguez. He’s all about the fastball and that’s very clear. You do tend to worry about the whole arm injury storyline, as mentioned above. But at the end of the day, the Orioles can’t worry about passing on guys who present as possible injury risks. The luck has been pretty unfortunate throughout the past couple of seasons, but a risk is a risk.
11. Orioles. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP. The pop-up pitcher of this class, but didn't see him as the 2nd HS RHP off the board. VG stuff, but if I have the pick, I take the more polished Cole Winn.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 5, 2018
This is the tweet that stands out the most. Both Cole Winn and Matthew Liberatore (along with fellow prospect Brady Singer) were on the board at the time of the Orioles’ selection, three very solid arms who were projected to go fairly high for good reason. They’re legitimate difference-makers who media scouts across the country pegged as valid options for teams at the top.
It’s an interesting note now, but it becomes even more interesting to store away for the future. We’ve seen these storylines progress over the years with similar situations in the past. Comparing first-round pitchers is a tradition enjoyed by everybody. With Winn, Liberatore and Singer being selected just a couple of picks behind Rodriguez, there’s no doubt that the race will be on for first to the majors. And at the end of the day, if Rodriguez doesn’t pan out, there will be no hiding behind this decision.
Of course, that’s not to say it was the wrong move. The pluses are extremely high for Rodriguez and there’s no telling how good he can become. He’s a first-rounder for a reason. But that’s a storyline to watch.
Below, a tweet and a tidbit from Carlos Collazo at Baseball America that touches on Rodriguez’s abilities with breaking pitches:
11. Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez, rhp, Central Heights HS (Texas) - Big, physical prep righty with velo, was up to 97 this spring, pair of breaking balls each shown plus at one point or another. #MLBDraft— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) June 5, 2018
He’s touched as high as 97-98 mph at best. On top of that, multiple scouting directors and general managers have been in to see him, which makes him a potential first day pick when factoring in solid secondaries in a slider, curveball and changeup.
It’s impossible to tell how Rodriguez is going to fare in pro ball, but these notes are a good start. It appears he has possible plus breaking stuff with an already pretty legitimate fastball. That will most certainly work.
Now, it’s wait and see. It’ll be a few years before we’re able to see how well he can progress into a legitimate prospect. But for the time being, there seems to be reason to be optimistic despite some doubts that emerged after the selection.