Grayson Rodriguez is on the verge of becoming the second Future Stars Series alum to reach the majors.
Whether that MLB debut comes as a member of the Opening Day rotation remains to be seen after an up-and-down spring training in which the Baltimore Orioles top pitching prospect showed plenty of flashes of what’s ahead for him, while also having some moments he can learn from later in his outings.
As can be expected for a pitcher whose innings have been largely limited as he’s come up through the system, the 23-year-old power righty has struggled at times later in his starts this spring, including his final outing against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, one in which he retired six of the first seven batters he faced before running into some issues.
The 2017 International Week alum and Baltimore’s first-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft remains a strong candidate to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster despite finishing the spring with an 0-1 record and 7.04 ERA in five outings, numbers that weren’t helped in that outing, in which he allowed two-out RBI singles to Tigers top young stars Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson before a three-run homer off the bat of Nick Maton.
Rodriguez still racked up 19 strikeouts in 15 1/3 big-league spring training innings, and is in line to be the fifth starter if the Orioles don’t elect to send him to Triple-A Norfolk, where he spent the majority of 2022 before an injury ended any chances of a September call-up.
“I’m going to leave that up to them,” Rodriguez told MLB.com. “I was just focused on going out every fifth day, making my starts, really just going out and competing.”
Meanwhile, other top prospects to come through Future Stars Series were recently assigned to minor league camp. It may be the last time it happens for some of them, as Colorado Rockies teammates Zac Veen and Drew Romo may both make their big league debuts before this season is over.
After a tough showing in an ambitious call-up to Double-A Hartford last year, Veen flourished in the Arizona Fall League, and opened a lot of eyes in major-league spring training. Having just turned 21 years old this off-season, Veen posted a .689 OPS in 48 at-bats, stealing eight bases along the way. Projected as an everyday outfielder with All-Star potential, Veen likely returns to Hartford to master Double-A before.
Romo is likely to reunite with his former travel ball teammate in Hartford, after squashing any concerns about his bat when healthy at High-A Spokane. Also only 21, Romo is believed to be Colorado’s catcher of the future, and continued to excite the organization about his future with a huge showing in spring training, batting .421 in 13 Cactus League games.
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