SARASOTA, Fla. - Most of the national prospects analysts agree that the Orioles' Eduardo Rodriguez is one of the top young pitchers in baseball.
He is the Orioles' No. 3 rated prospect by Baseball America and has been listed in all the major top 100 lists. Rodriguez comes in at No. 43 on the ESPN list and is rated No. 61 by Baseball Prospectus, No. 65 by Baseball America and No. 68 by MLB.com.
But Rodriguez didn't put his best foot forward during his time in O's big league camp, which ended when he was sent to the minor league camp after yesterday's game. At least, he didn't get the results he would have liked.
Over three games, Rodriguez surrendered eight runs and 12 hits in six spring innings, with two walks, six strikeouts and two home runs. He gave up five hits and two runs over two innings against Philadelphia on Wednesday.
But the kid still got some needed experience and for the second straight spring, rubbed elbows with the big leaguers.
Now he heads to Twin Lakes Park to get ready for his minor league season as he looks to build on a very strong 2013, when he went 10-7 with a 3.41 ERA between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He went 3-0 with an 0.36 ERA over his last four Bowie starts. He also pitched in three All-Star games, including the Futures Game, and was the winning pitcher with three scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League championship game. He certainly has one impressive season to try and build on this year.
In sizing up Rodriguez, MLB.com's Jim Callis said this:
"I don't know that he has a signature pitch that you say, 'Wow,' but he's left-handed with three solid pitches. His fastball, changeup and slider on any given day can be his best pitch. He has a chance to be a very steady No. 3 starter.
"He definitely could (push for big league time in 2014). My guess is if he doesn't start at Triple-A, he'd get there pretty quickly and then he is one step away. I would expect we'll see Rodriguez in the big leagues by the end of the year."
A neat moment for Rodriguez was in the fourth inning yesterday when the 20-year-old, who turns 21 in April, faced fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu, who turned 40 on Tuesday.
"You know, I faced him in Venezuela, but it was like live BP, playing with friends or something," Rodriguez said after Abreu came up with an RBI double off him. "I never faced him like that and it was a good experience for me."
Rodriguez soaked up some knowledge and experience among the big leaguers the last few weeks and now he heads to minor league camp looking to take another big step forward in his development this year.
Nolan Reimold hit a two-run homer yesterday and he now has three hits over his last four spring at-bats after a 2-for-13 start in Grapefruit League games.
Reimold said he could see that he was swinging better in recent days in pregame sessions.
"I've actually felt better in BP," he said. "There is a certain rhythm and timing to hitting and keeping your weight behind and that sort of thing. BP is getting better and it is starting to translate into the game a little bit. But there will be bad games, too, so keep it in perspective.
"I don't know, you can't really be in a rush to produce. The last two years, two neck surgeries and struggles. I didn't expect to come out and start hitting lasers everywhere. I knew it would be a bit of a struggle to get timing and my swing right. I knew eventually it would come and hopefully just keep improving."