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Rodriguez shines in bounce-back start

Top Orioles prospect matches career high with 10 strikeouts
Grayson Rodriguez is averaging just over 12 strikeouts per nine innings in 15 starts. (Joey Gardner/Delmarva Shorebirds)
July 26, 2019

What a difference a week makes. Unable to get out of the first inning in his last start, Grayson Rodriguez bounced back in a big way Friday night.The top Orioles prospect tied his career high with 10 strikeouts over five scoreless innings as Class A Delmarva held on for a 4-3 victory

What a difference a week makes. Unable to get out of the first inning in his last start, Grayson Rodriguez bounced back in a big way Friday night.
The top Orioles prospect tied his career high with 10 strikeouts over five scoreless innings as Class A Delmarva held on for a 4-3 victory over Charleston at Perdue Stadium. 

Gameday box score
After allowing a single to Brandon Lockridge on the first pitch of the game, Rodriguez (8-3) picked up a strikeout in the opening inning, something the 19-year-old was unable to do in his July 20 start against West Virginia, when he retired one batter and surrendered six runs on four hits and two walks. 
"He had a little different intent tonight, but his preparation was no different than any other start," Shorebirds pitching coach Justin Ramsey said of Rodriguez's performance. "His last outing didn't go his way. He could have easily pitched more if his pitch count hadn't gotten so high. He didn't change his approach." 
Against the RiverDogs, MLB.com's No. 51 overall prospect registered two more punchouts in the second and third. Josh Stowers, Eric Wagaman, and Oliver Dunn went down in the fourth as the right-hander struck out the side on 17 pitches. 
After issuing a leadoff walk in the fifth to Frederick Cuevas, Rodriguez fanned Max Burt and Lockridge, exiting with a four-run lead after throwing 51 of 85 pitches for strikes. He gave up three hits and two walks, lowering his ERA from a 2.94 to 2.74, which would rank fourth in the South Atlantic League if he had enough innings to qualify. With his eighth win of the season -- and first in July -- Rodriguez snapped a three-start streak in which he surrendered at least one earned run. 
"They [Charleston] have a good club over there," Ramsey said. "Lockridge is a good hitter. But Grayson didn't even bat an eye on the first-inning single. He just went out there and pitched and attacked." 
Ramsey credited the 19-year-old's maturity for his success. 
"He sticks with the process and gets back to work on mastering his craft," he said. 'He's a very mature kid and he's great to work with. Having him here makes my job a lot easier. The Baltimore organization did a very good job getting him."
Selecting a pitcher in the first round for the third straight year, the Orioles tabbed Rodriguez with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 Draft. The 6-foot-5 hurler led Central Heights High School to the Texas 3-A championship as a two-way star in 2017. 
"He's got a big, strong, durable body, has an advanced delivery. Is a unique combination of power and polish," Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajsich said of Rodriguez, who went 14-1 with a 0.38 ERA and 178 strikeouts in his senior season. 
Rodriguez went 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA and back-to-back 10-strikeout games in April, earning Orioles' Minor League Pitcher of the Month honors. He credited theintroduction of analytics for his success.

Aside from starting for the Northern Division in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, the Texas native pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the American League in the All-Star Futures Game last month in Cleveland. He was the first Shorebird to appear in the nationally televised showcase since Hunter Harvey in 2014. 
Noticing an uptick in Rodriguez's pitches Friday, Ramsey said the right-hander needs to maintain his focus and continue to go after hitters as the season winds down.
"His stuff was really electric," the pitching coach added. "I think it was his best start of the season. He needs to maintain his focus and poise on the mound." 
Ruben Garcia struck out four over 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his second save of the season. 

Dan Stokes is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByDanStokes.