Rodriguez strikes out seven in 3 2/3 innings

Keeping tabs on baseball's top pitching prospect

September 22nd, 2022

Age: 22
MLB rank: 4
Team: Triple-A Norfolk
ETA: 2023
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Sept. 21: Strikes out seven in 3 2/3 innings
After dominating in his first start back with Triple-A Norfolk, Grayson Rodriguez struggled a bit during his start on Wednesday despite racking up the strikeouts. Rodriguez allowed three earned runs on six hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander missed quite a few bats, though, striking out seven. Rodriguez allowed all three of his runs during the fourth inning and was ultimately pulled with two outs and 83 pitches on the night. His ERA in Triple-A now sits at 2.23 in 13 starts. Gameday >

Sept. 16: Dazzles in five-inning outing
In his first start back with Triple-A Norfolk, Grayson Rodriguez was on his game, allowing just two hits in five innings of shutout ball. Rodriguez struck out four and walked one while getting his sixth win of the year. His ERA in Triple-A now sits at 1.91 in 12 starts and 61 innings pitched. He has only allowed one home run all season. With the Orioles fighting for their lives in the AL Wild Card race, Rodriguez might be on his way to Baltimore soon. Gameday >

Sept. 12: Rodriguez ends rehab, returns to Triple-A
Grayson Rodriguez's time on the mend has ended, the Orioles announced, and the right-hander is en route to Triple-A Norfolk, where he's expected to start on Friday. When he toes the rubber for the Tides, he will have officially closed the book on his rehab from the right lat strain he endured on June 1, an injury that ultimately threw his season for a loop.

It's expected that Rodriguez will be slow-played in the early going, only building himself up to 56 pitches his last outing for Double-A Bowie on Sunday, which was his third rehab start in total. But once he returns to a full workload, his callup for a Major League debut appears to be a matter of time; it'll depend if the organization sees enough of a runway before the end of the big league season on Oct. 5. The O's could possibly give him one more taste of game action after the Triple-A season ends Sept. 28. Rodriguez could also be a candidate to pitch at the Arizona Fall League in order build up innings.

In any unfolding, Rodriguez -- who has it in his mind that he can pitch at Camden Yards this season -- is a prime candidate for the Opening Day rotation in 2023. And he's firmly back on track for that reality.

Sept. 11: Rodriguez fans seven for Bowie. Norfolk next?
It was another positive step forward for Grayson Rodriguez on Sunday, despite what the final line might read. Rodriguez struck out seven across 2 2/3 innings for Double-A Bowie -- including five across two perfect frames to open his day -- meaning all but one of the outs he recorded was via the punchout. Rodriguez struggled when he came back out for the third frame, walking the bases loaded but then fanning the next two he faced. He was a strike away from stranding them that way, but ultimately conceded an RBI single. Three runs scored after his departure from the game, all on his ledger.

Still, the fact that Rodriguez built himself up to 56 pitches was a positive takeaway. His start for Bowie was his third since returning to game action following the right lat strain he endured on June 1, two for Bowie and one for High-A Aberdeen. Next for Rodriguez could very be well a return to Triple-A Norfolk, where he started the year. After a few outings, talk of Rodriguez's callup to the big league team could start to get more serious.

Sept. 6: Rodriguez makes second rehab start
Another rehab start, another positive step forward for Grayson Rodriguez. Baseball's top pitching prospect struck out four across two innings for Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, throwing 40 pitches -- 22 for strikes -- in his second rehab outing. Rodriguez told reporters at Prince George's Stadium that he expects to pitch again for the Baysox on Sunday. After that, he could see a return to Triple-A Norfolk, where he started the year before enduring a right lat strain injury on June 1.

It was a tale of two innings for Rodriguez on Tuesday, though. He needed just 11 pitches to retire the side in order in the first, striking out a pair. But he needed 29 for the second, walking two, allowing a double and seeing a run charged to him on a wild pitch. Rodriguez did tell reporters that he feels energized after the long layoff, saying it's the best his arm has felt, "honestly, since I was in high school."

Should all go as planned, Rodriguez could see himself back with Norfolk as soon as Sept. 16, when the Tides are back home. After a couple outings there, talk of his promotion to the big league team could become more serious.

Sept. 3: Rodriguez set to pitch for Double-A
After coming out of his first rehab start for High-A Aberdeen healthy and excited to be back on a mound, Grayson Rodriguez will make his next outing on Sept. 6 for Double-A Bowie, the club announced. After that, Rodriguez may very well find himself back with Triple-A Norfolk, although his initial starts would likely come on a pitch count.

Rodriguez threw 31 pitches for Aberdeen on Sept. 1, exactly three months to the date of his right lat strain in Norfolk. There's building hope that he can return to full capacity and possibly debut in the Majors before season's end.

Aug. 30: Healthy again, Rodriguez eyes '22 debut
In Grayson Rodriguez’s mind, he was on the cusp of promotion when injury struck in early June, given the dominant first half at Triple-A Norfolk the righty remembers as “hands down the best I’ve ever thrown the baseball in my life.” Instead, he was rewarded for that success with adversity. Then slog.

Now a summer removed from his last competitive pitch, baseball’s top pitching prospect per MLB Pipeline is relishing his return to the mound. And his sights are still set squarely on the Warehouse.

“To me, it was any minute,” Rodriguez said Tuesday at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Md., where he’ll make his highly anticipated return from injury in a rehab start Thursday against High-A Hickory. “Where we are now, the goal hasn’t changed. Camden is pretty close.” More >>

Aug. 29: Rodriguez primed for first rehab outing
Exactly three months to the date of sustaining the right lat strain that has derailed his season, Grayson Rodriguez will return to a game mound. The Orioles announced on Monday that Rodriguez will make his first rehab outing with High-A Aberdeen on Thursday, when the IronBirds play host to the Rangers' High-A Hickory affiliate.

The exact planned workload for Rodriguez is not quite clear, nor how many rehab outings the club has penciled in for him before he returns to Triple-A Norfolk. But his recent progressions -- a live batting practice and simulated game in the past week -- has the organization confident he can return to his old self in some format before season's end. Whether Rodriguez is able to make his much-anticipated MLB debut before the close of the season is to be determined, but returning to a mound at the start of September gives him some runway to try and make it happen.

The club operating as much with 2023 in mind, but Rodriguez appeared on the door of a callup when he sustained the injury on June 1. Should he join the big league team this season, he'd join one in the heat of a pennant race.

Aug. 24: Rodriguez faces live hitters for the first time
A big step in Grayson Rodriguez's rehab from a right lat strain came on Wednesday, when he faced live hitters for the first time during a live batting practice session at the club's complexes in Sarasota, Fla. The Orioles have said that Rodriguez is also slated for a simulated game this week consisting of up-downs -- which are simulated innings -- in order to test him out even further.

After that, or possibly after another sim game, Rodriguez would appear on the doorstep of a rehab assignment with a lower-level Minor League affiliate. The Orioles have kept the door open for a return to game action this season given his recent progressions, but whether that comes with Triple-A Norfolk or for a Major League debut is to be determined.

Aug. 22: Rodriguez scheduled for live BP, sim game
Grayson Rodriguez might be approaching his biggest week of rehab to date, set to throw another bullpen session -- which would be about his fourth or fifth -- before taking part in live batting practice and then a simulated game. That will represent Rodriguez's first time facing live batters since sustaining his right lat strain at on June 1, and should he come out of the week healthy, the presumed next step would be perhaps another sim game before a rehab outing in the lower-level Minor Leagues.

The Orioles have remained mum on the exact timeline for Rodriguez's return, but his recent progressions have the club more optimistic he can get on a Triple-A mound at the very least before season's end, if not debut in the Majors. Still, their approach with him has kept at the forefront his full-season health for 2023, not wanting to risk re-injury for the short-term.

Aug. 10: Rodriguez takes big step forward, throws off mound
Grayson Rodriguez hit an important benchmark, throwing off a mound for the first time as he works back from the right lat strain he endured on June 1. Rodriguez is set to throw off a mound again on Friday, increasing his rampup after having only thrown off flat ground to date.

All the steps -- and, more importantly, his recoveries -- will help in determining Rodriguez's readiness to return by the end of the season. With some of his recent progress, the Orioles have renewed confidence that he can get into game action in September. Whether that comes in the Minors or the bigs is to be determined. But Wednesday was a positive step forward for Rodriguez, arguably his biggest to date.

Aug. 3: Rodriguez begins throwing program, increases hopes for '22 return
It was positive enough that Grayson Rodriguez has resumed throwing for the first time in recent days since sustaining his right lat injury at the start of June. But even more positive was the outlook that came with it.

The Orioles now have more hope that Rodriguez can return to game action before the close of the 2022 season than they did at the time of his injury. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said that Rodriguez is throwing up to 120 feet off flat ground, and that the prognosis is trending toward a return to a mound this season. That's likely to come in a Minor League setting, at least to start.

"He feels really good," Elias said. "I still do not have a timetable, but I would probably increase our desire to get him onto a game mound before the year is over than at the initial time that I made the announcement his injury happened. We're hoping for that."

Elias' words breathe the fullest of life into Rodriguez refinding his footing this year. The club initially cast doubt on a possible return, saying it may decide to shut him down for the year. But Rodriguez pledged confidence in beating the timeline set out for him, and he appears on track to do so. The only question now is if he has enough runway for a big league callup.

July 9: Rodriguez's follow-up MRI comes back clean
The reimaging of Grayson Rodriguez's right lat taken in recent days came back "great, as good as it could have," according to Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. All the while, Rodriguez remains at the club's complex in Sarasota, Fla., for gradual rehab and he's yet to resume baseball activities. There's no timetable for his return from the right lat strain he sustained at the outset of June.

"Things are trending well, but we still have stuff to do," Elias said. "And we still do not have a timetable yet, either, just because of the nature of these lat injuries. We're not at the sort of the checkpoint where we would start scripting that out."

The Orioles have floated the idea of getting Rodriguez -- the top pitching prospect in baseball -- back on a mound before the end of September, as well as possibly removing him from game action altogether until 2023. The next month will be telling in Rodriguez's readiness for the rest of this year.

June 18: Rodriguez begins 'active rehab' in Florida
Grayson Rodriguez, as expected, reported to the Orioles' complexes in Sarasota, Fla., for his rehab program from the right lat strain he endured at the outset of June. He's limited to just "active rehab" -- physical therapy and "pretty basic stuff at this point," said Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias -- and will be re-imaged and re-examined in the coming weeks.

Rodriguez had been tabbed for perhaps a return in September, though Elias said it's possible he could be back sooner or sit the remainder of the season. After Rodriguez undergoes his next round of scans, the Orioles may have a firmer timeline for his return to the mound.

"Those have gone well. It seems like everything's going well," Elias said of Rodriguez's workouts. "But no further clarity to the exact timeline yet. We'll do some re-imaging at some point in the next few weeks, and I think we'll have a better sense there of where in that timeframe he's probably going to land."

June 5: Rodriguez may be out rest of year
Grayson Rodriguez was tabbed with a Grade 2 right lat strain, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said on Sunday, and one that could keep him off a mound for the rest of the season. The Orioles instead hope he can return to action in September, but the injury has likely washed away the chance at a Major League debut this season. More >>

June 2: Rodriguez out 'a decent amount of time'
Grayson Rodriguez will not be in action for "a decent amount of time, at a minimum” after sustaining a right lat strain, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. The injury will delay Rodriguez's anticipated MLB debut, with no concrete timetable for his return. More >>

June 1: Rodriguez leaves in sixth with apparent injury
Grayson Rodriguez left his first June start in the sixth inning with right lat discomfort, a concerning sign for baseball's top pitching prospect. Rodriguez had thrown just 63 pitches for Triple-A Norfolk before being replaced. Despite the injury, he still posted a solid line, logging 5 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and fanning four without a walk. The injury came after he matched a career-high seven innings in his last start. More »

May 27: Rodriguez dominates in longest start of 2022
After a shaky start to the month of May, Grayson Rodriguez capped off a head-turning five-game stretch with perhaps his best start of the year. Baseball's top pitching prospect was electric for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits and no runs in a season-high seven innings pitched. The 22-year-old stymied Gwinnett's lineup all night, as Stripers DH Preston Tucker was the only batter to record a hit against him. His seven innings pitched matched his career high, which he last did in his second pro season on May 27, 2019. With his battery mate Adley Rutschman now in the big leagues, it may not be long until the two are reunited in Baltimore. Gameday »