The Orioles today officially signed their top draft pick, prep pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, who was just introduced at a Camden Yards press conference where he was joined by Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich.
It was not long after the Orioles selected Rodriguez 11th overall in round one on June 4 that they were closing in on agreement to a signing bonus. Rodriguez will head to Florida tomorrow for an orientation and to throw some bullpens before he joins the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles.
The 6-foot-5, 220-lb. Rodriguez agreed to a bonus of $4.3 million, which is just under slot value of $4,375,100 for that pick. The right-hander from Nacogdoches, Texas, will bypass his college commitment to Texas A&M to head into pro ball.
Rodriguez talked about the process of getting drafted and then signing so quickly.
“It’s every little boy’s dream to get drafted one day and I got drafted by the Orioles,” he said. “That was a dream come true for me. I couldn’t be more happier to be a part of this great organization and I’m ready to get to work.
“It’s very stress-relieving, I guess you could say (to have signed). For a lot of players, it’s a lot longer of a process. You know everything went smoothly with us and I couldn’t be happier.”
Rajsich said Rodriguez allowed just 21 hits and two earned runs in 75 innings this season with 17 walks, 156 strikeouts and a .187 batting average against.
“Grayson is a power pitcher with polish and finesse,” Rajsich said. “He repeats an online and on-time delivery with a fast, easy arm. He has a good fastball with late life and we’ve seen mid-90s to upper 90s often. He shapes two distinct breaking balls, a hard slider and curveball. And he has good feel for and deception with a changeup. He’s mentally tough and a very good competitor. In a nutshell, Grayson checks all the boxes when you are looking for a potential top-of-the-rotation starter. We’re very happy to make him an Oriole today.”
Rodriguez has worked to develop four pitches and not just blow away high school hitters with an overpowering fastball.
“I try to pride my pitching on command,” he said. “I love to throw strikes. I don’t necessarily like to mess around with a hitter. Try to go after him with my slider. I feel like that’s probably my best strikeout pitch and I like to throw it hard. Curveball is more vertical movement. On an 0-2 count, I like to throw it in the dirt. Changeup, like to keep it low and make the hitters keep guessing.
“I’m very excited to start playing with the best. I want to see where I stack up. In my opinion, I believe it’s at the very top. I’m ready to show my skills.”
Rajsich said Rodriguez scored well with him and his scouts beyond just having talented pitches.
“Our area scout (Thom Dreier) did a nice job visiting with him and his family and finding out more about him,” Rajsich said. “The intangibles are all there. His mental toughness. The emotional maturity. The competitiveness.
“I saw one of his playoff games where the second batter of the game got a base hit up the middle. The next two times up, that kid had no chance. He went after him with a vengeance. Just blew him away. That tells you, not only did he remember who got the hit off him, but he wasn’t going to do it again. You add up all the little things and they add up to we really like this guy.”
In 2017 as a junior, Rodriguez helped lead Central Heights High School to the Texas 3A State title. He went 14-1 with a 0.38 ERA and 178 strikeouts and was named the Texas Sports Writer’s Association Player of the Year. Rodriguez was ranked as the No. 14 overall pitching prospect and the No. 24 overall draft prospect in Baseball America’s top 200 prospects and the No. 22 overall draft prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
Rodriguez was rather impressed with his first look at Camden Yards.
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful place,” he said. “I walked in and it kind of takes your breath away at how pretty it is. The front office buildings in right field. No other ballpark has that. I can’t wait to play here one day.”
It didn’t Rodriguez long to enjoy some Baltimore seafood. One of his first stops not long after arriving yesterday for his physical was a local seafood restaurant.
“I already like seafood and now I love it even more,” he said.