BOWIE - Making his third Double-A start of the year and first at home, top Orioles pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings tonight for Bowie against the Akron RubberDucks in front of a big crowd at Prince George’s Stadium.
After a strong start to his outing, Akron had some nice swings starting in the third inning and there were a few hard-hit balls. He allowed four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in an 83-pitch outing. An inherited runner was stranded when right-hander Tyler Joyner replaced him with two outs in the fifth and Bowie behind 2-0.
Rodriguez rolled through a 1-2-3 top of the first on 12 pitches, getting two grounders and then struck out No. 3 hitter Alex Call, who is batting .352, swinging at a changeup. Second baseman Richie Palacios, a Towson University product taken in round three of the 2019 draft, grounded to second his first time up.
Rodriguez’s fastball touched 100 mph a few times in the first inning and a changeup at 87 mph ended the frame.
In the second, he threw another 1-2-3 inning, this time on 14 pitches. Bo Naylor, batting fifth, worked him to a full count before lining out on the sixth pitch.
Rodriguez began the year at high Single-A Aberdeen, making five starts before his promotion to Bowie, where he joins a team with a record of 25-9 that is the best in all of the minors beginning play tonight.
The right-hander is now ranked No. 11 in the top 100 by Baseball America, which makes him the highest-rated pitching prospect in the sport. He began tonight a combined 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA between the IronBirds and Baysox. Over 33 1/3 innings, he had allowed 17 hits with nine walks, 54 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.78.
Akron went ahead 1-0 in the third when he issued a walk and No. 8 hitter Andruw Monasterio doubled putting runners on second and third. A grounder got Akron on the board, but a strikeout and nice play by Patrick Dorrian at third base held that rally to one run. Call doubled to center leading off the fourth and scored on a two-out single by Chris Roller for a 2-0 lead.
The praise was pouring in about Rodriguez during in-person interviews before tonight’s game at Prince George’s Stadium.
“You’re going to see a guy tonight, 21 years old. Some people ask me to compare him to someone I’ve seen and you can’t. The stuff is electric. This a special right-handed arm coming quick,” manager Buck Britton said.
Said Bowie pitching coach Justin Ramsey: “It’s a lot of things (that make him good). Obviously, the stuff - when you watch him, it’s really good. There is velocity, breaking balls and changeups. But it’s his work ethic. He shows up with a plan and he knows what he wants to do. He studies. What is most impressive is he’s just a great person. You wouldn’t know that he’s a first rounder or a top prospect. All the things you want in that guy, they are all positives.
“It’s pretty good. It’s all upper echelon stuff. When you stack it up with what the best of the best are doing, you are going to see some similarities. Which is obviously fun to dream on for a 21-year-old.”
Akron tonight became the first team to get two runs off Rodriguez in his eight starts at two levels this year.
Bowie tied the game 2-2 on Doran Turchin’s two-run homer to center in the Baysox fifth.
Before the game tonight, Paul Mancano from “MASN All Access” and I talked about Rodriguez and Bowie’s great start to the season.
It’s a final: Bowie lost a home game for just the second time in 12 games, as Akron scored once in the sixth and held Bowie to four hits in a 3-2 win. Right-hander Ofelky Peralta (2-0, 3.20 ERA) gets the start for Bowie here tomorrow night at 6:35 p.m.
Rodriguez on his outing: “You know, that wasn’t up to standards for myself. Little disappointed tonight. Obviously, could have done a better job and stayed in the game longer. Got into some deep counts with some guys and kind of had a problem finishing guys off there. Definitely not what I had in mind.
“I think they fouled off a lot of pitches. The three or four hits I gave up were hard contact. That is just leaving the ball over the plate a little too much, but they battled well.”
Rodriguez via Zoom on the buildup in Bowie for his outing tonight: “That was a lot of fun. I had kind of seen some stuff on Twitter about it. To see that here in Bowie at a minor league game, that was a lot of fun. Lot of Orioles fans came out to support it. Ultimately, we didn’t get the win, but it was a great showing and cool to see.”
Rodriguez on his strong year so far: “So far, it’s definitely been a great year. Started there in Aberdeen the first month we were able to throw a lot of good ballgames there. Trying to keep it rolling here in Bowie. The first two starts I had here were nice. This one was a little different, but we’ve had a great season so far.”