You read here about how Grayson Rodriguez's experience with Program 15 and the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series helped him.
But how did he put what he learned at International Week into practice and how did he pick up the velocity that's seen him skyrocket up the 2018 MLB Draft rankings?
“It all started over the offseason,” Rodriguez told FutureStarsSeries.com in a recent phone interview.
“I started going to a place in Tyler, Texas called APEC. It's a workout place, and I had a trainer and we did a lot of baseball-specific workouts that got my back and my shoulders a lot stronger. I went there from September to the middle of January, and that helped a lot. That was the biggest contributor to my gain in velocity.”
Rodriguez performed well at International Week; he allowed just one run while striking out three batters in three innings of work, but even with a low 90's fastball, he wasn't truly blowing anyone away. But, now that he's touching 98 miles per hour, that's all changed.
“It's nice,” he said through a big laugh.
“My fastball, it's not like a curveball or a slider where some days it's there or some days it's not, it's nice always having a consistent pitch like that to go to. It's great early in the count, and you can use it late in the count too for your advantage.”
Just as important, however, is the development of his secondary pitches.
“That's improved a whole lot,” Rodriguez said. “I worked with a pitching coach, David Evans in Houston, three times. We worked on offspeed stuff and not slowing your body down when you pitch. He fine tuned my mechanics, and that opened up a lot of possibilities for my breaking balls, especially my curveball and my slider, as well as being able to throw them more consistently and adding more velocity to my slider as well.”
It's an exciting time for Rodriguez, with Baseball America projecting him to go in the Top 10 in their most recent mock draft. But he's trying hard to not look too far ahead.
“Right now, I’m not really worried about the draft,” Rodriguez told P15. “We’re in our high school playoffs right now, and that’s kind of been my main focus, is to go back to state and hopefully win us another state championship. I’m trying my best to focus on high school baseball right now and just win week-by-week to stay alive.”
It’s hard, however, for Rodriguez to ignore the bevy of scouts that have continued to flock to his outings.
“There’s been quite a few scouts at each game that I’ve thrown, there’s usually about 20 to 30 there,” he said. “I just try to do my best to not pay attention to them and just treat them like they’re fans and just go out on focus on the ballgame. The first couple of outings, it was different. As soon as you lift your leg up to throw, you see all the (radar) guns in the background raise up. It grew on me, I got used to it. Now, at this point, it doesn’t even bother me. It was kind of nerve-wracking at the beginning, but as the season went on, it became normal and I expected it, so it became easier to deal with.”