Former Central Heights Flame Thrower Named Minor League Pitcher of the Year
Just a few years ago, Central Heights Blue Devil pitcher Grayson Rodriguez was turning in dominating performances on the high school mound. Flash forward about three years and not much has changed, except now Rodriguez is doing it on the professional level as he continues his progression through the Minor Leagues.
According to a recent release from the Baltimore Orioles, Rodriguez has been named the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season. Rodriguez, 21, helped lead Double-A Bowie to the Double-A Northeast Championship following his promotion on June 1.
Prior to his promotion, he was named the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month and High-A East Pitcher of the Month for May after going 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA while compiling 40 strikeouts in five starts for High-A Aberdeen. Rodriguez, who can bring a fast ball at over 100 mph, had a career-high 12 strikeouts through 5 innings on July 18 while with Double-A Bowie.
He was named High-A East Pitcher of the Week on May 23 after tossing 6 scoreless innings with one hit and eight strikeouts in the IronBirds’ victory on May 21. He went 6-1 in 18 regular season starts for the Baysox, posting a 2.60 ERA, with 22 walks against 121 strikeouts.
He had 30 more strikeouts than the next-closest pitcher on the club. His 121 strikeouts led all Double-A Northeast hurlers and ranked tied for fourth in all of Double-A baseball. He is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Orioles system by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, as well as the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball. He is ranked as the game’s No. 7 prospect by Baseball America and No. 8 by MLB Pipeline.
Rodriguez was selected by the Orioles in the first round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of Central Heights High School. He joins several others professional ball players with ties to East Texas who are doing well this year. Some of those include Hudson native Riley Smith who pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hunter Dozier (former SFA baseball player) plays for the Kansas City Royals, and Hudson native Brandon Belt who is having one of the best seasons of his career with the league-leading San Francisco Giants.