Rodriguez shines in Shorebirds' shutout

Top Orioles prospect allows one hit, fans six over five innings

Grayson Rodriguez hasn't allowed more than one earned run in nine of his 11 starts this season. (Joey Gardner/FotoJoe)

By Brian Stultz / | June 25, 2019 10:40 PM

Grayson Rodriguez again proved that the Orioles drafting him 11th overall last year might have been a prudent choice.

The top Baltimore prospect allowed one hit and struck out six over five innings Tuesday, sending Class A Delmarva on its way to a 5-0 blanking of Lakewood at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. 

After allowing a single to Jonathan Guzman to open the game, Rodriguez (7-1) induced Phillies No. 14 prospect Rafael Marchan to bounce into a double play. It was the last action on the basepaths against's No. 53 overall prospect as he retired 14 batters in a row to complete his outing. 

Gameday box score

Rodriguez was efficient, throwing 47 of 66 pitches for strikes and brought the heat, averaging between 94 to 96 mph with his fastball.

"All of my pitches were working -- fastball, curveball, slider and changeup," the 19-year-old said. "I was able to throw them when I wanted to and had some velocity behind the fastball. Everything just kind of tied in together."

The right-hander has pitched nine scoreless frames over his last two starts, rebounding after surrendering seven runs on eight hits in five innings on June 4 at Kannapolis.

The Texas native described it as "just a bad game" against the Intimidators.

"It's in the past and I'm doing my best to forget about it," Rodriguez said. "No major adjustments, but just sticking to the plan of attack."

He also doesn't let the pressure of being a highly ranked prospect affect him, adding that if he goes out there and just does his job, the results will come.

"I feel like if you get too caught up in everything off the field, it adds pressure, but I just focus on my game," Rodriguez said. "Keep pitching every six days and I don't have to worry because it will all take care of itself."

With his last start for the Shorebirds coming 15 days ago, it was no surprise to the 2019 North Division starting pitcher in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game that he was limited to five innings.

"I'm coming off of a long break," Rodriguez said. "They're throwing pitchers five innings at the max and keeping a magnifying glass on us."

The 6-foot-5 right-hander has held opponents to one earned run or fewer in nine of 11 starts in his first full Minor League season. He lowered his ERA to 2.21, which would rank fourth in the South Atlantic League if he had enough innings to qualify, and moved into 10th place with 78 strikeouts in 57 frames.

Rodriguez admits his height can be an advantage on the mound, especially when it comes to deceiving batters. He learned to utilize that advantage during his senior year at Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, Texas.

2019 MiLB include

"I think it helps me out tremedously," he said.

Another part of the learning process has been the introduction of analytics this season, part of what new Delmarva manager Kyle Moore has brought to the club.

"Analytics are a big thing on all parts of the game, especially pitching," Rodriguez said. "Figuring out how to throw pitches ... super slow-motion cameras. Just pitching metrics and finding out what batters do and what exploits their weaknesses. We throw to our best game."

Matt De La Rosa struck out one over two hitless innings and Felix Bautista closed out the Shorebirds' league-leading 11th shutout, allowing two hits while fanning two.

Orioles No. 13 prospect JC Encarnacion put Delmarva on the board in the second with a two-run homer that plated 28th-ranked Robert Neustrom. Neustrom added a two-run blast in the sixth.

Brian Stultz is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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