I hope all the readers of this blog have a great time this Thanksgiving with family and friends and get to spend time relaxing and enjoying the company of loved ones.
I have a lot to be thankful for myself, with family and friends topping the list. Early during last season I got to see that firsthand and was overwhelmed to see so many rush to help me any way they could or just send a nice note or thought. It meant so much.
But this is a baseball blog, and even though I'm sure for many of you it has the proper place in your life, it's baseball and still important, right?
As it relates to the Orioles, fans can be thankful for a winning season and a team on the rise. Now fans have real evidence (like a won-loss record) that what the Orioles are doing is working and that 2022 might be the start of something big.
They have indeed built an elite talent pipeline and the building process is ongoing. That might be the best news of all. They intend to not run out of prospects.
The Orioles pulled off what must be a pretty rare feat on the farm this year. They produced two different players that were ranked as No. 1 prospects in the sport in Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. Both made the majors and showed real talent. That's exciting.
And now a pitcher is on deck, so to speak.
Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, the sport's No. 4 overall prospect, per Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com, is now on the 40-man roster. Next stop: Baltimore.
“Grayson was dominant this year," said Matt Blood, the O's director of player development. "He was determined. I think the (lat) injury was very unfortunate and the timing of it was frustrating for everyone involved. But I think he has very much platformed himself to be where he wants to be next season, and we’re all excited about his progresses."
In 17 starts this year, Rodriguez went 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA, missing time between June 1 and Sept. 1 with a Grade 2 right lat strain. Fans have to be very excited to see how good he will be at the major league level.
Blood said that no one aspect of Rodriguez's pitching advanced more than others this season.
“Not really. He is just a very talented prospect, and I think he has gotten to the upper minors and now for him it is just about refining his repertoire and continuing to improve consistency of execution. At this point, he’s got the stuff and now it’s just refining that consistency of execution. That will determine the level of star he will be at the major league level.
“If he executes at a high rate, he’s going to be a really good player. If he is more inconsistent, then his production will be less. That is what it’s all about at that level."
In 75 2/3 innings, Rodriguez walked 28, fanned 109, posted a 0.99 WHIP and allowed a .176 batting average against. In 14 starts at Triple-A only, he went 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA.
Now Blood said Rodriguez won't necessarily need to prepare any differently for 2023, even if, for him, it begins in the majors and not on the farm this time.
“I don’t think so. I think he’s preparing the same," Blood said. "He wants to come in healthy and strong and prepare to compete and perform as early as he is called on."
For Orioles fans, the wait for Rodriguez is almost over. Another aspect of baseball fandom for O's fans to be thankful for.