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Orioles target prep righty Rodriguez at No. 11

Baltimore tabs Oregon State SS Grenier with 37th selection
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles continued to prioritize pitching when it comes to their top selection in the MLB Draft on Monday night, selecting a pitcher first for the third consecutive year with No. 11 overall pick Grayson Rodriguez.

Baltimore used its competitive balance pick, No. 37 overall, on Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles continued to prioritize pitching when it comes to their top selection in the MLB Draft on Monday night, selecting a pitcher first for the third consecutive year with No. 11 overall pick Grayson Rodriguez.

Baltimore used its competitive balance pick, No. 37 overall, on Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier.

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"He's got a big strong durable body, has an advanced delivery. is a unique combination of power and polish," Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajsich said of the 18-year-old Rodriguez, who was the club's focus going in.

"He was a consistent performer, he held up very well. He was consensus pick for us in the first round. We all loved him, just thrilled he was there for us at pick 11."

Rodriguez, like last year's selection DL Hall, is a high school arm as the 6-foot-5 right-hander hails from Central Heights High School(Nacogdoches) in Texas. There, he led Central Heights to the state 3-A title as a two-way star in 2017, then he consistently worked in the low 90s on the showcase circuit.

But where Rodriguez's stock really skyrocketed was this spring as he got into better physical shape and overhauled his composition. He added 25 pounds of muscle and saw his stuff get better as a result, with his fastball clocked as high as 98 mph.

"Whenever we started our throwing programs, the ball just felt different coming out of my hand," said Rodriguez, who went 14-1 with a 0.38 ERA and 178 strikeouts and was named the Texas Sports Writers Association (TSWA) Player of the Year.

"It was just jumping out of my hand, it felt like half the effort it did before to throw it where I wanted to. Every time I threw a fastball, I could hear it, I could hear it right before it hit the mitt."

Rodriguez, who got a personal trainer that he worked with from September until baseball started in January, said the feeling being selected on Monday was amazing.

How amazing?

"It was almost like my heart stopped," Rodriguez said.

According to MLB Pipeline -- which ranked Rodriguez at No. 22 coming into Monday's Draft -- he has an array of promising secondary pitches, with most scouts preferring his low-80s slider to his mid-70s curveball. He also has a rarely used changeup that will need to be developed more.

"We love the competitor in him, we like the way he handles it," Rajsich said, reiterating that Rodriguez was the O's target despite more polished, big league-ready players on the board. "He's got poise and composure on the mound. We like the compete factor."

Grenier, a three-year starter with the Beavers, has established himself as one of best defensive shortstops in the college game. There's no doubt he can stay at the premium position long term, with an outstanding internal clock, good hands, above-average speed to give him excellent range and more than enough arm to make throws from anywhere on the infield.

How his bat will play more of a question for Grenier, a right-handed hitter who batted .328/.415/.478 with 60 runs, 16 doubles, 5 HRs, 44 RBIs and 8 steals in 58 games for the Beavers.

"It's awesome. Obviously for all of us that want to be big league baseball players, this is the first step ... it's what I wanted from the time I stepped on campus here," said Grenier, who did not sign when selected by St. Louis in the 21st round of the 2015 Draft. "I'm really, really excited, ready to finish up this year and see what the future holds."

Video: Draft 2018: Orioles draft SS Cadyn Grenier No. 37

Grenier, who is from the same high school (Gorman High School) as current Oriole Joey Rickard, said he expects to start his pro career this time around and called being drafted "a weight lifted" off of his shoulders. Now, he can go out and have fun.

"Somebody thought I was good enough to take this pick," Grenier said, "And now I'm going to go out there and prove them right."

Grenier -- a Henderson, Nev., native who was watching the Stanley Cup Finals when he got selected -- joins a group of teammates who also went in Monday's first round. The White Sox selected Nick Madrigal fourth overall and the Twins took Trevor Larnach with the 20th pick.

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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