BALTIMORE — The Orioles officially introduced 2018 first-round Draft pick Grayson Rodriguez at a news conference Tuesday. The high school righty will report to the club’s Spring Training complex in Sarasota, Fla., for orientation and workouts before joining the organization’s Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team.
Rodriguez, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, received a $4.3 million signing bonus, which was just under the bonus slot for his selection at $4.3751 million.
“It’s every little boy’s dream to be drafted one day, and I got drafted by the Orioles, and that was a dream come true for me,” said Rodriguez, who hails from Central Heights High School. “I couldn’t be more happy to be a part of this great organization and I can’t wait to get to work.”
The 11th overall selection in this year’s Draft said signing quickly was “very stress-relieving.”
“For a lot of players, it’s a lot longer of a process, but everything went smoothly with us and I couldn’t be happier,” said Rodriguez.
After adding about 25 pounds of muscle last offseason, Rodriguez’s fastball now sits in the mid to high 90s. Rodriguez said he plans to spend this summer further progressing down that path, and “get up into the triple digits and get there consistently,” he said.
Rodriguez has also improved his command and sharpened his pitch selection this past high school season, in which he allowed just 21 hits, two runs and tallied 156 strikeouts in 75 innings.
“That’s what we’ve seen all spring,” said Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajsich. “That’s why we include polish and finesse with power, because he has the ability to do that and he shows you that ability every time out. He can pitch in the strike zone, he can pitch out of the strike zone. It’s very impressive for his age.”
When asked about a big league comparison, Rodriguez said he’s been told his delivery resembles that of former Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, and his fastball has earned comparisons to Mets starter Noah Syndergaard.
“I try to pride my pitching on command,” Rodriguez said. “I love to throw strikes. I don’t necessarily like to mess around with a hitter. I try to go after him with my slider. I feel like that’s probably my best strikeout pitch. I like to throw it hard. Curveball is more vertical movement. On an 0-2 count, I like to throw it in the dirt. Changeup, I like to throw it low and make hitters keep guessing.”
Rodriguez has already started to make himself acquainted to Baltimore. Along with seeing Camden Yards in person for the first time — “it takes your breath away with how pretty it is” — he made a visit to a local seafood joint for crab cakes this week.
“I already liked seafood, and now I love it even more,” he said. “I’ll definitely be eating more of it.”
Rodriguez was interviewed by Orioles television broadcasters Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer during Tuesday night’s game against Boston. The newest member of the Orioles talked about leaving for Sarasota today and being told there was a possibility he might be pitching in some night games in Aberdeen, NC later in the summer.
Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.