Orioles add right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, four others to 40-man roster

The Orioles added five players today to their 40-man roster. By adding these players, they now cannot be taken by another organization in the upcoming Dec. 7 Rule 5 draft. And they will all report to major league spring training in Sarasota, Fla. in February.

They added two of their three top pitching prospects in right-handers Grayson Rodriguez and Seth Johnson along with lefty Drew Rom, right-hander Noah Denoyer and shortstop Joey Ortiz.

At 34 players this morning, the Orioles' 40-man roster now holds 39 players.

Rodriguez is the Orioles No. 2 prospect behind only Gunnar Henderson and is rated as the No. 4 national prospect in top 100s by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com.

In 17 starts this year, he went 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA, missing time between June 1 and Sept. 1 with a Grade 2 right lat strain. He left his start early June 1 with Triple-A Norfolk and returned three months later to make three rehab starts between high-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie before returning to end the year with Norfolk.

Over a combined 75 2/3 innings he walked 28, fanned 109, posted an 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.

Rodriguez, 22, shared the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2019 with Mike Baumann and Rodriguez was the sole winner of the Jim Palmer award in 2021.

Ortiz, between 111 games at Bowie and 26 at Norfolk, batted .284/.349/.477/.826 and played top-notch defense at shortstop. He produced 35 doubles, six triples, 19 homers and 85 RBIs while scoring 91 runs. In his Triple-A games only, he hit .346/.400/.567 with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 14 RBIs and nine walks. 

Ortiz led O’s farmhands with 153 hits and ranked second to Jordan Westburg, who had 106, in RBIs. He ranked third on the farm in doubles and tied for third in home runs, Ortiz is ranked as the club’s No. 8 prospect in a recently-updated Baseball America O’s prospects list and is No. 17 via MLBPipeline.com. He was No. 28 on the Baseball America list to begin the 2022 season.

Ortiz, 24, is the club’s fourth-round draft pick in 2019, the first draft for Mike Elias and his front office in Baltimore. It is a draft that already sent the top three selections to the majors in Adley Rutschman, Henderson and Kyle Stowers. Ortiz was their fifth pick in that draft.

Rom went 8-3 with a 4.43 ERA this year in 26 starts between Double-A and Triple-A. In 120 innings, he walked 47 and fanned 144 hitters between the Baysox and Tides. In seven starts to end the year with Norfolk, the lefty went 1-1 with a 4.54 ERA. Rom got to those numbers in a unique way. He allowed four earned runs in 21 2/3 innings, for an ERA of 1.66 over his first four Norfolk starts. He then gave up 15 earned runs in 16 innings his last three starts for an ERA of 8.44. Rom is rated as the club’s No. 18 prospect via Baseball America and No. 19 per MLBPipeline.com.

Rom, 22, is a rare player that remains in the O’s top 30 prospects list, but was acquired before Elias arrived in Baltimore. He was selected in round four of the 2018 MLB Draft by then scouting director Gary Rajsich.

The O’s also added Johnson to their 40-man, even though he has yet to pitch an inning on their watch. Ranked as their No. 10 prospect by both BA and MLBP, Johnson was acquired in a three-team trade on Aug. 1 from Tampa Bay and in the deal Trey Mancini went to the Houston Astros. The O’s acquired Johnson knowing he was headed for and since has had Tommy John surgery. The surgery was performed Aug. 3 in Dallas by Dr. Keith Meister and he is likely to miss all of the 2023 season.

Johnson was the No. 40 overall pick in the 2019 draft by the Rays out Campbell University, the same school that produced O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins. He signed a bonus of $1,722,500 dollars. His last start this year was May 20 in high-A and he went 1-1 with an ERA of 3.00 in seven starts with a 3.67 walk rate and 13.67 strikeout rate.

Baseball America’s scouting report projects Johnson as an “athletic, mid-rotation starter.” His 94-98 mph fastball gets a 55 scouting grade and his power slider that touches 87 mph gets a very strong 70 grade. Johnson, per the prospect rankings, is the Orioles third-best pitching prospect behind Rodriguez and DL Hall.

Denoyer, 24, went 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA between three clubs this year, pitching mostly for Bowie. Over 71 2/3 innings he recorded a 0.93 WHIP and .194 batting average against. He posted a 2.13 walk rate and 12.43 K rate. In 14 games with Bowie only, he went 1-2 with a 2.61 ERA.

After the minor league season, Denoyer pitched in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He was 3-1 with an ERA of 4.50. In 20 innings, he gave up 17 hits with 11 walks, 21 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP. He started in the Fall Stars game for the American League and pitched one inning allowing one unearned run.

Among some Rule 5 draft-eligible players that were not added to the O’s roster today were Cody Roberts, Maverick Handley, Luis Valdez, Greg Cullen, Adam Hall, Robert Neustrom, Cadyn Grenier, Zach Watson, Shayne Fontana, Kyle Brnovich, Ignacio Fwliz, Morgan McSweeney, Xavier Moore and Houston Roth. 

The five players added today included the only four Rule 5 draft-eligible O’s prospects ranked among their current top 30 lists. The Rule 5 draft will be held Dec. 7 at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

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