Rodriguez was one of the big surprises in this year’s draft, going 11th overall to Baltimore. He had a solid GCL debut after signing, where his stuff actually got stronger as the summer wore on. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, the 18-year-old Rodriguez is very physical for his age and looks the part of a future workhorse. His semi-windup delivery is low-maintenance, finishing on-line with a strong drive to the plate. The arm-circle is a bit stiff and rigid in the back, but it adds deception and doesn’t impede his feel for spin. Rodriguez’ fastball ranges from 92-to-97 mph, sitting closer to the high end of that range by the end of the GCL season. He keeps it around the plate well and throws strikes, showing signs more in-zone command will develop with pro reps. His curveball was a loopier 72-to-75 mph right after signing, but has tightened up into a sharper high-70s snapper after a summer of pro coaching. Rodriguez is strong enough to throw a true slider at 81-to-85 mph that’s distinct from the curve, a subtle attribute that many young pitchers don’t have. Rodriguez’ mid-80s changeup is the least refined pitch in his arsenal, but he’s able to get separation from his fastball and keep it around the zone.
Rodriguez showed more polish than anticipated in his pro debut, and he’s another exciting pitching prospect in a rapidly-improving Orioles system. He will start to generate Top 125 prospect buzz if he comes out of the gates showing the same 95-to-97 mph fastball and sharp curve I saw in August. The ceiling is a durable mid-rotation starter with the stuff to miss bats. Rodriguez’ upside is a FV 55 prospect in our scouting system, though one that currently would be slapped with an extreme risk grade given his proximity and draft profile (prep righty).