2023 AL Rookie of the Year odds: Touted Orioles pitcher Grayson Rodriguez expected to make Baltimore rotation out of spring training
Pitchers and catchers report to spring camps in Florida and Arizona in only two weeks, and there's some interesting news out of Baltimore that could benefit bettors who already hold a ticket on Orioles pitcher Grayson Rodriguez to win American League Rookie of the Year honors. The right-hander is currently a +1000 co-sixth favorite at DraftKings.
Over the weekend, Orioles general manager Mike Elias told CBS Sports insider Jim Bowden on MLB Network radio that he expects Rodriguez to make Baltimore's rotation out of spring training, which is saying something considering the 23-year-old hasn't pitched an inning in the Show yet. Remember, teams have a little more incentive these days under the new CBA to allow top rookies to start the regular season in the majors instead of stashing them in the minors for the first few weeks to manipulate their service time.
Rodriguez was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 draft out of a Texas high school. Tigers pitcher Casey Mize was the No. 1 overall pick that year and Kyler Murray went No. 9 overall to the A's. On Sept. 9, 2019, the Cubs promoted Nico Hoerner to the big leagues, making him the first player to reach the majors from that draft, but he was also selected out of college. The most accomplished big-leaguer from that class so far has been Rays pitcher Shane McClanahan, the No. 31 overall pick.
MLB.com ranks Rodriguez as the No. 7 overall prospect in the sport. He's the second-highest ranked pitcher behind Philadelphia's Andrew Painter (No. 6). The site gives Rodriguez 70 grades on his fastball and curveball with the highest possible mark an 80 and lowest a 20.
The 6-foot-5 Rodriguez has struck out nearly 13 batters per nine innings in his minor-league career, walking just three per nine and holding hitters to a combined .173 batting average. Rodriguez holds a 25-9 record with a 2.47 ERA in the minors but is yet to throw more than 103 in a minor-league season
He was poised to be called up last season before a Grade 2 right lat strain in early June ended any chance of that. Rodriguez made 14 starts for Triple-A Norfolk in 2022 had a 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 97:21 K:BB across 69 2/3 innings. He was added to the Orioles' 40-man roster in November to be shielded from the Rule 5 Draft.
Baltimore was a huge surprise last season but definitely needs pitching. The team's cumulative ERA was 3.97, 17th in the majors. The Orioles did sign Kyle Gibson and recently traded for Oakland's Cole Irvin to fill out the rotation. Kyle Bradish, Dean Kramer and Tyler Wells will likely join them for now. Former ace John Means won't be back from Tommy John surgery rehab until midseason.
The last Orioles AL Rookie of the Year was pitcher Gregg Olson in 1989. The team is poised to have two strong candidates for the award in 2023, as infielder Gunnar Henderson is the +350 favorite after playing 34 games late last season and hitting .259 with four homers and 18 RBI.
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