Future Stars Series pro ball alumni update: Grayson Rodriguez, Mick Abel shine

March 19, 2023

When you take a second and think about the name of the company, Saturday just seemed to make sense.

Future Stars Series.

Future. Stars.

Two pitchers who fit the bill took the ball in MLB Spring Training on the same day, with Grayson Rodriguez making the start for the Baltimore Orioles during the afternoon, while Mick Abel did the same for the Phillies at night, with both alums taking big steps towards one day making the big leagues.

For Rodriguez, a 2018 first-round draft pick, there are understandably fewer rungs to climb on the ladder, as the expectation remains he will make the big-league club out of camp and make his highly-anticipated MLB debut after several years of being regarded as one of the game’s top pitching prospects.

Not bad for a two-way player when he was with the FSS at the inaugural 2017 International Week event.

The 23-year-old right-hander struck out three batters in 3 2/3 innings in Baltimore’s 9-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox, allowing two earned runs while picking up the loss as he continues to learn how to make the adjustments to facing major-league hitters. But he continued to show plenty of flashes of his future as a top-of-the-rotation talent, recording three-pitch strikeouts of both Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec.

After a 6-2 record with a 2.62 ERA across 17 starts last year, mostly at Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles know what they have, and it’s just a matter of when and not if Rodriguez makes the permanent move to Camden Yards.

“I’ve been with this organization for four years now, so I’m really not trying to go out there and show them anything,” Rodriguez told MLB.com. “I’m just trying to go out, throw strikes and just get ready for the season.”

As for Abel, that the 21-year-old is still in big league camp with the Phillies is a strong indication of how highly regarded he is in their organization, and he did little to discourage that with a dazzling outing against a strong Atlanta Braves squad. Philadelphia’s first-rounder in 2020, the multi-time International Week alum who first stood out on the national scene in the early installment of the FSS National Tournaments, spun two hitless, scoreless frames on Saturday on the big stage, making it look easy against one of baseball’s best lineups.

Abel struck out Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley in the first inning, working around his lone walk in the process, and put together a 1-2-3 second frame to wrap up his outing, retiring Michael Harris II, Vaughn Grissom and Sam Hilliard in order.

“Felt good. Felt confident. Nice and relaxed and ready to go,” Abel told MLB.com. “I think it kind of reinforces the hard work that I’ve put in this offseason, kind of helps me trust my stuff a little bit more, and it’s going to prepare me for whatever comes next.”

Abel reached Double-A Reading for a five-start stint to wrap up his 2022 season, and is likely to begin this year as he continues his path to the majors.

Mike Ashmore
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