Orioles general manager Mike Elias told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sunday that he expects top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez to crack the team’s Opening Day rotation out of camp this spring and that he also believes top outfield prospect Colton Cowser will be ready to make his MLB debut at some point in 2023.
Rodriguez was striding confidently toward Baltimore last summer before he suffered Grade 2 right lat strain while working in a game at Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He didn’t return to action in the minors until September, and by the time he got properly stretched out again, the O’s chances of a late-season push to the playoffs had fully cratered. The 23-year-old ultimately finished with a 2.62 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 28 walks in 75 2/3 innings (17 starts) between High-A Aberdeen, Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. He’s recorded a career 2.47 ERA with 419 strikeouts in 292 total professional frames since the Orioles selected him 11th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft, but the lineups and environments of the AL East obviously present a far greater test than what he’s seen on the farm.
Cowser, the No. 5 overall pick from the 2021 MLB Draft, also reached the Triple-A level in 2022 and produced an overall .278/.406/.469 batting line with 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases in his 138 minor league games. The 22-year-old has experience at all three outfield spots and boasts an .895 OPS so far as a pro. If there’s an injury to Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins or Anthony Santander, the ETA on Cowser could further shrink.
A brighter future is rapidly coming into focus at Camden Yards.
- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke glowingly of the organization’s young players and rising prospects at the club’s Hot Stove event for full-season-ticket holders this weekend, as relayed by Stephen Mears of TalkNats.com. CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia, Keibert Ruiz, Cade Cavalli, MacKenzie Gore and Josiah Gray all earned a specific mention. “This is the most lush and successful prospect list that we’ve ever had,” Rizzo said. “It’s the most talented players we’ve ever had in the farm system at one time.” The big buzz is that Cavalli could be positioned to join Gore and Gray in Washington’s season-opening starting rotation with Stephen Strasburg’s health still a lingering uncertainty.
- Spencer Steer acknowledged at a Reds Caravan event over the weekend that he has his sights set on the everyday third base job in Cincinnati this season. “I’m going to do everything I can to win that spot,” he told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “I think it’s doable and attainable. That will be my focus: getting into that lineup and staying in that lineup.” Acquired from the Twins at the trade deadline last August in the return package for Tyler Mahle, the 25-year-old Steer went on to bat .211/.306/.326 across his first 28 big league games. He was slashing .274/.364/.515 in the minors prior to his promotion to the Reds’ roster.