Orioles fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, who’s squarely in the mix for a spot in the team’s Opening Day rotation. That shouldn’t be considered a foregone conclusion, however, Jacob Calvin Meyer of the Baltimore Sun writes. The O’s are planning to manage Rodriguez’s innings count this season anyhow, and doing so in the minors will be easier than at the Major League level. If Rodriguez does head to Norfolk to begin the season, the Orioles could look to any of Austin Voth, Tyler Wells, or Spenser Watkins to open the year on the starting staff.
Rodriguez, 23, was the No. 11 overall pick in 2018 and is widely regarded as one of the sport’s top overall pitching prospects. He posted a brilliant 2.20 ERA with a 35.8% strikeout rate against a 7.7% walk rate at Triple-A last year, though that dominance came in a relatively small sample of 69 2/3 innings. The 6’5″ hurler was limited to just 75 2/3 frames on the season overall, thanks to a Grade 2 lat strain that wiped out his entire June, July and August. Upon returning, he allowed nine runs with a 29-to-14 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings — a notable step back from his early-season dominance. He’s also been hit hard in his past two spring outings and now has yielded 10 runs (seven earned) on 13 hits and seven walks with 14 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.
The sky is the limit for Rodriguez, whom the organization envisions as a potential ace at the front of the starting staff for years to come, but that optimism will also lead to some understandable caution with regard to his 2023 usage.
A couple more notes on the Orioles…
- The O’s are aiming for a July return for left-hander John Means, who’s on the mend from 2022 Tommy John surgery, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The southpaw said this week that he’s thrown five or six bullpen sessions so far this spring, and he progressed to throwing his changeup in his most recent effort. Kubatko notes that Means could begin throwing breaking balls in his mound sessions at some point in early April. There’s still a ways to go, as he’ll need to build up to the point where he can throw all of his pitches, then face live hitters, then embark on what’s sure to be a lengthy minor league rehab stint as he builds up to game readiness. Provided the recovery goes according to plan, Means should have a rotation spot waiting for him once he’s ready. The 29-year-old (30 next month) was Baltimore’s best starter when healthy, pitching to a combined 3.72 ERA with a 21.2% strikeout rate and outstanding 5.1% walk rate in 356 2/3 innings from 2019-22.
- Baltimore will get corner outfielder Anthony Santander some reps at first base during the final week of Spring Training, skipper Brandon Hyde announced this morning (via Andy Kostka of the Baltimore Banner). Santander logged four innings at the position early in exhibition play before leaving the club for a few weeks to represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The 28-year-old has never played the infield in a major league game. Aside from 24 appearances in center back in 2019, he’s played exclusively corner outfield at the big league level. Santander’s only first base experience in a meaningful game came back in 2016, when he made nine appearances there while in High-A. Of course, the O’s aren’t planning to deploy him regularly there over the coming season. He’ll be in right field on most days, with the club hoping he can branch out to offer some cover behind starting first baseman Ryan Mountcastle if needed. Baltimore acquired Ryan O’Hearn and Lewin Diaz as non-roster first base options this offseason, adding some left-handed depth behind the righty-swinging Mountcastle.
That’s what I said when I watched the end of that WBC. Sometimes that all you can say
MLB must be pretty happy to have had the two biggest baseball countries square off in the championship game. I’m curious to know how the tournament did as far as TV ratings here and in the countries the game is trying to expand into.
The highest viewed World Series game was Game 6 of the 1980 series of Philly vs KC at 54.86 million. The Japan vs South Korea netted 62 million in Japan alone. The US vs Japan will likely topple that.
This Kjerstad kid has done nothing but hit since .. the day he was born lol
He’s on fire the spring. Glad to see after his heart issues
Seriously. He was the No. 2 overall pick (though that was bolstered by O’s trying to save money for later in the draft but he was still between 6-10 in every publication) so there’s very much reason to believe this kid has a real shot. The fact he, as you stated, has done nothing but hit is encouraging. I’m hoping for a corner OF regular who can give us something in the 260/350 and 25+ hr range.
Orioles thought Kjerstad was the best hitter in the draft so we can put the underslot argument to bed. They didn’t go underslot with Adley or Holliday. And they picked their top-ranked player in Heston. The savings was gravy, not the reason for the pick.
Huh? This is based on what?
Isn’t that true of any pitcher to some degree? What are you seeing that’s increases Grayson’s risk in that regard?
Huh? This is based on what ?
It’s based on nothing, besides maybe being a pos lol
Just a matter of time. It’s when not if anymore. They might as well go have the surgery done now. Anytime I read a team is going to manage a young pitchers innings and usage it’s just a matter of time before the injury occurs.
Nope. sahn-tahn-DARE. The first syllable is not stressed.
There’s no reason to think you wouldn’t simply be lighting your money on fire with that bet.
Somewhere in that warehouse someone is very happy that Rodriguez is struggling this spring. Now if they start him at AAA for “seasoning” (a.k.a. manipulating service time for an extra year of control) and bring him up in late May there will be less questions.
Let’s believe this narrative after they announce the opening day roster. Until then, no sense going full Chicken Little.
I’d be nice to get the add’l pick as well. Unless our honorable prev poster is right and both his arms fall off like a Lego Minifigure after a run in with an angry toddler.
Mac – Rodriguez is likely on an innings cap this year even if 100% healthy, and my guess is something like 140 innings. Whether those occur from early April through August or end of May through October 140 innings is 140 innings The difference to the team is one extra year of control and until I see the Orioles approach this differently I’ll continue to go off precedent and expect them to go the most “cost effective” route.
Let’s hope he’s healthy so we’re not sitting here in March 2024 reading how they’re converting him to short relief.
Point well made. I agree that nothing in their history says that they’ll let him go north to Boston. I agree if they want him in a possible playoff chase late in the season, they’ll either have to piggyback him along the way with say Wells or have him skip starts altogether midseason… Or he is the opening day pitcher for Norfolk while they also get the extra control for another year. With much of our hopes tied up in him and in DL, I certainly agree that they need to step up carefully for IPs.
Honestly, as much as the fans hate to see the Angelos’ questionable strategy, I guess that’s what Spring brings each year, esp as a lifelong Os fan, hope against years of frustration.
Here’s to hoping we continue to climb to relevancy and feeling like 1983 again.
C Yards Jeff
Thought Cowser would get to the show before Kjerstad. Not so sure now.
I don’t think that’s a knock on Cowser, though. I think it’s a pleasant surprise given Kjerstad’s relative resurgence. It’s nice to see him overcoming the adversity he faced outside of the game early in his career.
What a stupid comment
I hope the Orioles are able to build on last year. It is a great franchise that made a bunch of bad decisions which cost them years. The turnaround started when Rutschman got to the big leagues. It would be nice to see them improve on last year especially with less games against the AL East. Not hoping for a pennant, but 86 wins would be moving in the right direction.
Had to look up the spelling again.
Saltalamacchia – The longest name ever on the back of a jersey in MLB history.