O’s Matt Blood on Grayson Rodriguez and Kyle Stowers

We will get to see Double-A Bowie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, baseball’s No. 1-ranked pitching prospect, make at least one more start in the 2021 season.

Limited to three innings on Thursday at Harrisburg, Rodriguez will pitch next week, likely on Wednesday, when Bowie hosts Altoona in the final week of the regular season for the Double-A Northeast. Should Bowie advance to the playoffs the following week - when there will be one playoff series involving the top two teams in the league - Rodriguez will get another start. This one would be in the postseason to likely wrap up his great year.

“It would be one more start and then playoffs (should they advance),” O’s director of player development Matt Blood confirmed during a Friday interview. “It gets him to the (innings) range we’re comfortable with. That was what (Thursday) night was about, staying in a range where we are comfortable.”

Rodriguez was rolling in that shortened start at Harrisburg. He retired all nine batters he faced, struck out five and needed just 34 pitches to get the nine outs.

“Sounded like he had a pretty good night,” said Blood, who was in Norfolk that night watching the Triple-A Tides.

Going into Friday’s games, Rodriguez had actually pitched more innings than any other pitcher on the O’s farm. He was at 98, with Bowie lefty Drew Rom at 97 2/3 and Baysox righty Garrett Stallings at 97.

Between high Single-A Aberdeen (five starts) and Bowie (17 starts), Rodriguez, 21, is 9-1 with a 2.39 ERA. He has allowed 54 hits and 27 walks with 156 strikeouts. He allows a .157 batting average and 0.83 WHIP.

He leads O’s farm pitchers in strikeouts per nine at 14.33, and in strikeout rate at 41.2 percent.

He’s checked every box and then some during an outstanding season.

“He’s had a great year and he’s learned a lot. And I think he is setting himself up for an exciting next year,” said Blood.

Stowers-Hits-Bowie-White-Sidebar.jpgDuring a phone interview yesterday, I also asked Blood about outfielder Kyle Stowers, ranked as the Orioles’ No. 11 prospect on MLBPipeline.com and No. 17 by Baseball America. He was moved this week from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk. I asked why this was the time to promote Stowers, who started at high Single-A Aberdeen, to his third level this year.

“He was performing well above the league average in Double-A,” Blood said. “He has been doing so for an extended period of time. Looking at the Triple-A schedule and how they will go a little longer than other affiliates, it just kind of played out that he would get a solid month of time there to be exposed to the level and have some time to make adjustments. Just felt like it was the right time for him to get that experience and platform him for next year.”

Stowers went 1-for-4 with a single for the Tides last night and is 2-for-15 (.133) in his first four games with Norfolk. But overall on the year in 106 games, the lefty hitter is batting .274/.380/.522/.902 with 21 doubles, one triple, 24 homers and 74 RBIs.

“I think he’s had a great year, and finishing at Triple-A and getting to play against that competition, regardless of how he performs there, is a huge win. It’s going to really help him to be even more prepared for next year, which is going to be a big year for him,” Blood said.

Stowers leads all O’s minor league players in homers and RBIs and ranks second among full-season players in OPS.

Does Blood think he will eventually start raking at Triple-A as he did with Bowie?

“I’m not going to predict that. It will be a good challenge for him. He will be exposed in some ways, in a good way, so he can understand the adjustments he needs to make over the offseason. It’s a month of time and we’ll see how it goes, but I’m more interested in how it sets him up for the future,” Blood said.

Norfolk will play 10 more games than the other O’s full-year affiliates. It appears that it’s not out of the question that someone else could still be promoted to Triple-A, but barring an injury situation it appears unlikely.

Friday on the farm: Bowie beat Harrisburg 8-3 in 10 innings for its fifth win in a row. The Baysox (66-45) remain 1/2 game behind Somerset for the final Northeast playoff berth with nine games left. Chris Hudgins drove in three runs, Andrew Daschbach hit his seventh homer and Jordan Westburg had three hits. Rom threw five scoreless innings for Bowie.

Big club wins: The Orioles beat Toronto 6-3 Friday, an impressive win to start the four-game series. They snapped Toronto’s eight-game win streak. And, coming off their four-game sweep in the Bronx, where Toronto never trailed, last night the Blue Jays never led as they lost for just the second time in the last 13 games.

The Orioles (46-94) are 3-2 on this homestand. They have won five of seven and six of their last 10. The Orioles are 8-8 their past 16 games.

Anthony Santander’s three-run homer in the seventh, blasted 110 mph off the bat, broke a 3-3 tie. Earlier, Cedric Mullins homered, and so did Ryan McKenna.

Mullins hit a leadoff homer in the first inning and stole two bases in the eighth. He now has 28 homers and 28 steals in his bid to become the Orioles’ first 30-30 player.

Mullins has now homered four times his last six games and seven times his past 16. He has hit eight leadoff homers this year and 11 for his career.

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