Orioles select RHP Grayson Rodriguez at No. 11 overall, Oregon State SS Cadyn Grenier at No. 37 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
2018 MLB Draft

Orioles select RHP Grayson Rodriguez at No. 11 overall, Oregon State SS Cadyn Grenier at No. 37

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

With the present-day Orioles in such a sorry state, the club got a much-needed chance to look toward the future Monday night.

The Orioles selected right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez out of Central Heights (Tex.) High School with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.

“Grayson Rodriguez is a future power pitcher with an advanced delivery and feel for all of his pitches,” said director of scouting Gary Rajsich. “He has command of four above average pitches, can shape two distinct breaking balls, and attacks the strike zone.”

On a conference call after day one of the draft, Rajsich elaborated on what the Orioles liked about Rodriguez.

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The first thing you notice is that he’s got a big, strong, durable body, and he’s an advanced high school pitcher that is a unique combination of power and polish,” Rajsich said. “He’s got a good, advanced delivery that he can repeat. His arm action’s nice and clean, and the ball comes out of his hand very well. He’s got advanced command of four pitches, and he just pounds the strike zone. We just love the competitor in him. He’s got poise and composure on the mound. He’s just out there to take care of business.

“He was a consensus pick for us in the first round. We all loved him, and we were just thrilled that he was there for us at pick 11.”

Baseball America described the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Rodriguez as “the biggest pop-up player of the 2018 draft class.” He improved his stock dramatically in the past year after undergoing a rigorous conditioning program over the winter, increasing the velocity on his fastball from the low to the upper 90s.

“Rodriguez has regularly been up to 97-98 mph with his fastball and sits in the mid-90s throughout his starts with remarkable ease in his delivery,” Baseball America wrote. “In addition to the fastball, Rodriguez has a low-80s slider and a curveball that is a step ahead at 72-74 mph and occasionally slows up.”

MLB Pipeline wrote of Rodriguez, “Rodriguez is a decent athlete who uses a controlled delivery that allows him to provide strikes on a regular basis. His 6-foot-5 frame and high-three-quarters slot create steep downhill plane with his pitches.”

Rodriguez credited his intense winter training for his rapid improvement as a pitcher this year.

I started going to a place in Tyler, Texas, a workout place, they also work out big leaguers like Brandon Belt, Michael Kopech, Josh Tomlin,” Rodriguez said. “I went there from September probably up until we started practice for high school season in January, and we got on a pretty strict training program. I had a personal trainer, and I saw him two to three times a week.”

For Rodriguez, the training paid immediate dividends.

The ball just felt different coming out of my hand,” Rodriguez said. “It was taking like half the effort it did before to throw it as hard as I wanted to. I definitely didn’t have to try to throw hard. It just kind of came a lot more natural. … Everything just worked so much more fluid. The ball would just jump out of my hand. Everytime I threw a fastball, or I really threw a good one, I could hear it right before it hit the mitt.”

Rodriguez, 18, is currently committed to Texas A&M, but seems more likely to pursue his professional career and sign with the Orioles.

I want to get it done as soon as we can, go out there to Florida, get a uniform on, and start pitching. I’m ready,” Rodriguez said.

It marked the second straight year the Orioles have selected a high school pitcher with their first overall pick. They took lefty D.L. Hall out of Valdosta (Ga.) High School with the 21st overall pick in 2017.

The selection of Rodriguez fits the Orioles’ recent profile of drafting from the high school ranks. According to Baseball America, in the Orioles’ last five drafts prior to tonight, they selected high schoolers with 59.3% of their picks in the first five rounds, the most of any team in baseball.

Rodriguez was a bit of a surprise pick, as no draft experts expected the Orioles to select him at No. 11. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo predicted the club to pick prep lefty Ryan Weathers (son of former big league pitcher David Weathers), while Jim Callis pegged prep right-hander Cole Winn. CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa also predicted Winn. FanGraphs’ mock draft, from Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel, tabbed Florida third baseman Jonathan India.

India and Weathers were both off the board by the time the Orioles picked. India was selected fifth overall by the Cincinnati Reds, while Weathers went to the San Diego Padres at No. 7. Winn fell to the Texas Rangers at No. 15.

In their mock drafts, Axisa predicted Rodriguez to land with the Tampa Bay Rays at No. 16 overall, while Callis placed him with the Milwaukee Brewers at No. 21. Both Mayo and the FanGraphs duo had him falling to the Kansas City Royals at No. 34.

The Orioles made another pick on the first day of the draft, selecting shortstop Cadyn Grenier out of Oregon State with the No. 37 pick (part of competitive balance round A).

Grenier, listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, is known for his defensive prowess at shortstop. MLB Pipeline wrote, “There is no doubt he can stay at the premium position long-term, with an outstanding internal clock, good hands, above-average speed to give him excellent range and more than enough arm to make throws from anywhere on the infield.”

Being an elite defender is a point of pride for the 21-year-old Grenier.

I owe it all to the preparation that I put in, day in and day out,” Grenier said. “You just practice every ground ball like it’s a Game Seven World Series clincher. And that’s just the way I go about my business on defense. I know my athleticism, I know my arm, and I expect myself to make plays that people couldn’t even dream of, and I expect myself to make them routinely. So it’s all a mindset and the preparation that I put in, and it pays off.”

Grenier, though, faces questions about his offensive potential, with MLB Pipeline stating that he has “bat speed and a little pop to his pull side, but he tends to be off-balance often when he swings.”

The 21-year-old Grenier was previously drafted in the 21st round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005 out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, where current Orioles’ outfielder Joey Rickard also attended.

Grenier admitted he was surprised to be drafted by the Orioles, who hadn’t spoken with him often during the scouting process.

I hadn’t really talked to the Orioles very much at all this year,” Grenier said. “Just the normal meeting with the area guy and all that, but it wasn’t anything like, ‘Hey, I’m checking in every week because I want you to know that we’re really interested.’ And all of a sudden, something went right, and they popped up and took advantage.”

Even if it wasn’t the destination he’d expected, Grenier is happy to kick off his pro career.

It’s awesome,” Grenier said. “For all of us that want to be big league baseball players, this is the first step, getting drafted and getting with a team and entering pro ball. Obviously it’s exactly what we wanted from the time I stepped on campus, and for a lot of us, it’s the best day. It’s the best thing we could imagine right now.”

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. jkneps63

    June 4, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Let’s get on to the regular “Orioles Magic” grooming process to make this guy the NL Cy Young award winner in 2022!!! Yes!!!

    • Jbigle1

      June 4, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      You’ll be lucky to see him in 2022.

    • ubetonit

      June 5, 2018 at 1:37 am

      “NL” ?

      • jkneps63

        June 5, 2018 at 7:47 pm

        Stands for National League! Where Jake Arrietta won a Cy Young award after being allowed to play with a beard…hello!

  2. jkneps63

    June 4, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Can Buck and Dan be sent to Norfolk? This would be the bestest of roster moves…

    Plus this is Grayson’s face upon learning he was drafted by the Orioles:

    🙁

    I hope he has a good run at Texas A&M

    • LenSakata

      June 4, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      Good idea, but the Os need a total overhaul

      • jkneps63

        June 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm

        You’re not kidding, I am doing a full review of their 40 man roster and minor league players – there barely any pitchers showing any promise and no catchers beyond Chance. I don’t give Wynns much of a chance to put up anything close to a MLB worthy slash line and the cupboard is bare! Bare I say.

        DRAFT A CATCHER DAN, COME ON YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  3. Djowen

    June 4, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    What is a “pop up player”?

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 4, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      A player whose stock/performance rose quickly. In Rodriguez’s case, his physical transformation and extra velocity on his fastball turned him into a much better prospect than he was a year ago.

  4. 5brooks5

    June 4, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    Nice synopsis. He is a big kid. Hope not another big Sydney ponson

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      I’ve found no record of Rodriguez punching any judges, so I think we’re in the clear.

    • ZantiGM

      June 5, 2018 at 7:42 am

      Ponson had other issues like alcohol and anger issues…this kid looks to be in better physical shape then Ponson was.

  5. Ron tee

    June 5, 2018 at 1:08 am

    forever they have drafted pitchers high and passed up players like Frank Thomas and they went on to never get above AAA .rarely does a high school ball player ever get to the show.. hopefully this is a gem or history repeats itself.

    • Jbigle1

      June 5, 2018 at 7:29 am

      That’s just not true. Look at some of the best players around the game. Trout, Lindor, Kershaw etc. none of those guys went to College. How about our best player, Manny Machado. Bryce Harper only went to Community college but was HS aged when drafted. There’s tons of high school draftees playing in the MLB and they’re successful too. I don’t think you thought this one out. Going to college for four years doesn’t make you a good big leaguer. It’s all a crapshoot.

  6. ubetonit

    June 5, 2018 at 1:40 am

    “NL” ? Are the O’s trading him?

  7. deqalt

    June 5, 2018 at 5:58 am

    Sounds like the Orioles drafted a pitcher who they have to groom, which is not what the Orioles can do. Then drafted a light hitting SS, which NEVER translates to a starting job. Even he was suprised. All that pitching and we pick a defensive specialist?

  8. Gibbyx

    June 5, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Sounds like the Os are trying to go under slot value with both these picks…..curious who they’re trying to reallocate the funds to.

    Disappointed the Os didn’t snatch Brady Singer at 11, hopefully this isn’t the next Matt Hobgood

    Greneir showed improvement in his hitting each year, so I’ll wait to reserve judgment there.

    Today should be an interesting day as 3-10 is where the Os have found some good value the past few years.

  9. ZantiGM

    June 5, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Very important day today with 3-10…hoping we get some good college players

  10. Bancells Moustache

    June 5, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Alright, MLB Draft time men! (Insert statement about what players the Orioles need to/should have picked even though its a bunch of High School boys and College players no one has ever heard of) I’ll check in 3 years from now when they are in Bowie, thanks.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 5, 2018 at 8:46 am

      Yeah. I’m not one to try and curtail discussion. But frankly the MLB draft is the ultimate crapshoot. Everyone rips on the reach that was Hobgood, but he was the Gatorade National Player of the Year. I remember the excitement for Brian Matusz. Disappointment that they took a junior college kid out of Georgia and wanted him to be a hitter when other teams saw Nick Markakis as a pitcher. You just don’t know. Chris Smith looked like a major reach and he was; Billy Rowell looked like good value and he wasn’t. But it is fun to speculate.

      • Bancells Moustache

        June 5, 2018 at 9:51 am

        I suppose that did come off a bit snarky. My point is that MLB is trying to turn the Draft into a spectacle a’ la the NFL but it doesn’t work. I’m genuinely intrigued, excited even, to see where the Heisman winning QB or unstoppable Nebraska DT ends up. That doesn’t work with a bunch of 18 year olds coming out of High School. The only time I can recall a draft pick generating any hype at all in baseball was when Harper and Strasburg went in successive years, and we already knew they were locks at the #1 pick. I suppose I better start combing scouting reports and national rankings to see who the Birds pick at #1 next summer. It’s difficult to get excited about that right now though…

        • Jbigle1

          June 5, 2018 at 6:33 pm

          I think that’s just the nature of the animal. You can’t get excited about a guy you aren’t going to see for probably 4 years. There’s the occasional kinda talent like stras or Harper that is hyped and is expected to see the show early but if you aren’t picking in the top 3 in one of those great years, you aren’t even gonna have that excitement.

  11. Osfan73

    June 5, 2018 at 9:01 am

    So the Os drafted Manny’s prospective replacement-guess that seals it for sure, he’s gone. And still are putting the emphasis on starting pitching. Ok good, hope they pan out & can’t wait to see how they perform. Any chance this organization go after some guys with speed who can get on base and play some small ball?? It’s sorely lacking and just one reason IMO why the current offense is the way it is.

    • bigdaddydk

      June 5, 2018 at 9:46 am

      He’s not a near term replacement at all. He’s probably three years away. Plus, shortstops are typically really good to move to other positions because they tend to be intelligent players with transferable skills. Could be a future third baseman or center fielder. That said, Manny’s probably gone anyway.

      • Bancells Moustache

        June 5, 2018 at 9:53 am

        Under 6 feet and all glove no bat? Hard to see that guy moving away from SS…

  12. Orial

    June 5, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Positive draft so far. Yes it’s a crapshoot but I have faith. NOW let’s find a way to get involved in the International Market and pick up some Acuna’s,Soto’s,or Guerrerro’s.

  13. CharlesVillageChris

    June 5, 2018 at 11:21 am

    > Rodriguez was a bit of a surprise pick, as no draft experts expected the Orioles to select him at No. 11.

    Flashbacks to Matt Hobgood, oh man…

  14. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 5, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    A crapshoot for sure …. but you gotta like 6’5″ and upper 90s from a high schooler.

  15. ubetonit

    June 5, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    O’s took:

    11. Baltimore Orioles: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP Central Heights High School, Nacogdoches, Texas

    Grade: B

    The selection of Rodriguez over Cole Winn comes as a surprise, but he should make a #3 starter capable of eating 200 innings per year.

    O’s passed up:

    15. Texas Rangers: Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran (California) HS

    Grade: A+

    Cole Winn was seriously considered as high as second overall, but to come off the board at 15 he is an absolute steal. Great pitchability and strike throwing with potentially three plus pitches and a fourth that’s average.

    https://www.mlbdailydish.com/2018/6/4/17425462/2018-mlb-draft-tracker-grades-round-one-round-two

    • TheFatMan

      June 5, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      I liked Matthew Libertore better than Winn or Rodriquez. Think he may be next Bumgarner.

  16. jkneps63

    June 5, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    FOR THE LOVE OF ALEXANDER OVECHKIN – DRAFT A FRIGGIN’ CATCHER ALREADY!!!

    Okay I did the scouting, this kid hits R and looks like he’s worth a shot: Campbell, Jacob

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