Grayson Rodriguez speaks on MLB Debut, gives advice to kids coming up

NEW YORK — Grayson Rodriguez isn’t a prospect anymore.

Don’t worry, that’s a good thing.

Speaking from the spacious visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, the 23-year-old right-handed Baltimore Orioles staring pitcher is a full-fledged big leaguer now, having finally graduated from prospect status on May 20 when he held the Toronto Blue Jays to just two runs through five innings of work.

“It’s awesome,” Rodriguez told FSS Plus. “The rankings weren’t something I ever really paid attention to. Coming up in high school, I was on both sides of it, so I’ve seen both sides of it. Really, that’s for the fans. It’s just going out and proving that you’re the best every day. Not having to see my name anywhere anymore like that, I think it’ll be nice.”

Sent to Triple-A Norfolk Saturday afternoon after a difficult outing versus the Texas Rangers — the team he made his MLB deut against in April — Rodriguez first started making waves on the amateur scene with the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series at International Week in 2017, when, still as a two-way player at the time, he fared well on the mound against a prospect-laden lineup that included fellow future big leaguer Bo Naylor.

For Rodriguez, still only 23 years old, the experience at the game’s highest level has been worth the work he put in to get there.

“Honestly, it’s more than I thought it could have been,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, something that I have dreamed about since I was five or six years old. Just kind of getting my first two months in, and really just trying to learn each day as I go.”

Even as he was ranked as the top pitching prospect in all of baseball by multiple outlets for the last few years as he quickly ascended through the ranks in Baltimore’s system after they took him with the No. 11 overall pick back in the 2018 MLB Draft, Rodriguez says it wasn’t until Spring Training this year where he really started to feel like achieving those dreams was becoming close to a reality.

“Obviously, not making the team out of camp was disappointing, but it didn’t take long with just the one start in Triple-A,” he said. “But really, just getting up here and kind of seeing it, it was just a whirlwind. It’s just been a lot of fun.”

Even with an up-and-down first two months in The Show prior to being sent down to work on some things in Triple-A Norfolk, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Texan has created plenty of memories, including that debut in front of many friends and family in Texas, getting to see long-time friend A.J. Minter in Atlanta, and stepping into Yankee Stadium for the first time last week, a historic venue that he called a “pretty majestic place.”

Rodriguez is also well aware that he’s now something of a role model for kids who are trying to follow in his footsteps, and had some advice for them, going back to his time coming up through the Orioles system.

“It’s a lot closer than it seems,” he said. “I remember being in Low-A in 2019, and feeling just far away from the big leagues, that it’s going to take forever. It’s a process, it’s going to be long and hard. And, it is. The minor leagues is not an easy thing, but looking back on it, I felt like it went by pretty quick. Just kind of enjoying that time while you’re down there, I think you can learn a lot from your minor-league experiences; there’s a lot of stuff that I learned down there that I’m bringing into this life every day, and man, it went quick. So, just stick with the process.”

Mike Ashmore
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