The Orioles 1st round pick in the 2018 draft, RHP Grayson Rodriguez, made his full season debut for the Delmarva Shorebirds last night. At just 19 years old, he is one of the younger players at the Low A level. Rodriguez dominated the Lexington Legend’s lineup, allowing only 2 hits, 2 walks, and 0 runs against 10 strikeouts over 5 innings pitched. I was able to watch the game on MiLB.tv and although the camera angle didn’t allow for a good look to judge the movement qualities of his pitches, I was able to catagorize pitch type, velocity, and some general thoughts about his start.
As noted in the tweet above, Rodriguez generated no shortage of swinging strikes, 19 in just 74 pitches. Following is a breakdown of the pitches he threw with velocity ranges and swinging strike rates.
Fastball – 44 count (59.4% of his pitches), 89-96mph (sitting 91-92), 13 swinging strikes (29.5% rate on FB)
Notes – He came out pumping 93-96 in the 1st inning but settled into a comfortable 91-92, touched 93 a couple times in the 5th to finish his outing. He threw two different fastballs, a 4-seam and a 2-seam. The 4S had zero armside action, pure backspin, looked like it had some ride from the way it played in the zone. The 2S he only used against LHB and it had mild armside tailing action and appeared to have some sink as well. The 89mph pitches were 2S and so were most of the 90s.
Breaking Balls – 14 (18.9% of pitches), 70-86mph (curveball 70-78mph, slider 77-86mph), 1 swinging strikes (7.1% rate on breaking balls)
Notes – He threw a curveball and a slider. At first, they were distinct pitches, with the curve coming in at 73-75mph and the slider at 82-86mph. After the second innings the lines blurred and there were a bunch of breaking balls in the 77-79mph range, some looked like they were sliders with move horizontal life and some like firm curveballs. The lines between the pitches were blurred though and both became more slurvy. So wasn’t sure on a few of them so I lumped them together.
Changeup – 16 (21.6%), 76-80mph, 5 swinging strikes (31.3% rate)
Notes – This was the big surprise for me, after rarely throwing a changeup in HS or in his pro debut, it was the featured secondary pitch here, he used it heavily against LHB to great effect and even got a swinging strike on a sneaky right on right change. The pitch appeared to have more tumble than armside fade and was thrown with convincing armspeed. He commanded the pitch impressively, mostly starting it in the zone and having it fall out
General Thoughts – Rodriguez’s delivery hasn’t changed since last year, still a tall and fall style with a relatively long but clean arm action and a quick downhill finish. He’s added some good weight, not a big change and there is still room for more on his XL frame, but he’s not thin and I wouldn’t be surprised if he body remained the same going forward. He showed advanced feel for his age, throwing all of his pitches for strikes and the ability to locate the fastball and changeup. He was cognizant of who was at the plate and would up the intensity against the top hitters in the Lexington lineup. He didn’t groove any pitches or give in to hitters. That showed as only one ball was put in play that wasn’t a weak groundball or popout. He’s flashed above average to plus sliders and curveballs in the past and showed good feel for at least an average changeup last night. Grayson’s ceiling will be as high as the fastball velocity he can hold. If he can build to holding 94-95mph, which I think is reasonable given his frame and arm speed, I’d be comfortable putting a #2 SP as a reasonable ceiling. Exciting young arm.
Ofelky Peralta – demoted after floundering in Frederick for two years, but still only 21 years old, Peralta closed out the game for the Shorebirds. He was 93-96mph and mixed in a couple good changeups, along with a curveball and a couple sliders. He looked poised and was able to put away two hitters even after falling far behind in the count. He pulled a number of pitches gloveside, but was consistently 96 when he got on top of the fastball and finished properly.
Robert Neustrom – Cranked a line drive home run off of a 85mph fastball from a junkballing lefty.
Hector Guance – Mechanics were out of whack and was missing badly armside. Fastball 91-92mph.
Defense – not a ton of challenging plays, but Doran Turchin got a nice jump in RF to catch a line drive in the gap, Adam Hall looks buttery smooth at 2B, Cadyn Grenier has great fundamentals at SS but the quality of his throws have been lackluster the first two games.