Orioles’ Grayson Rodriguez leaves Triple-A start with lat injury

Jean J. Sanders

Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez has been diagnosed with a strained lat muscle. Orioles GM Mike Elias on Thursday told reporters that there’s not yet a time-table for his return to action. The club will seek a second opinion. 

Rodriguez exited his Triple-A start on Wednesday night alongside a trainer with what was initially described as right lat discomfort, according to Gabe Lacques. He subsequently underwent further testing.

Rodriguez, 22 years old, was in the midst of his 11th start as a member of the Norfolk Tides. In 5 ⅔ innings he had allowed no runs on two hits and no walks. He had struck out four batters while throwing 52 of his 63 pitches for strikes. As noted by the Baltimore Sun, his final fastball of the evening was recorded at 89 mph, well below his typical mid-to-upper 90s velocity.

Rodriguez, who was presumably nearing a promotion to the majors, had amassed a 2.32 ERA and a 5.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first 50 innings at the Triple-A level. He entered the spring ranked by CBS Sports as the second best pitching prospect in the minors as well as the fifth best prospect overall. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Rodriguez, the final first-round pick Baltimore under Dan Duquette’s watch, has proven to be a quality parting gift. He split last season between High- and Double-A, compiling a 2.36 ERA and a 5.96 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Rodriguez already looks like a big-league starter thanks to a physical frame and a broad, high-grade arsenal. He’s capable of dialing up his fastball into triple digits and elevating it above the batter’s hands late in counts. He complements the heater with several swing-and-miss secondary pitches, including a nasty slider that qualifies as his second-best pitch. Rodriguez has already achieved a high degree of success in Double-A, meaning he should open the year in Triple-A before making his big-league debut come summer.

Provided Rodriguez is able to return and ramp back up in a timely manner, he could soon become the second notable prospect promoted to the majors by the Orioles. Baltimore called up catcher Adley Rutschman in May. Rutschman came into the season ranked by CBS Sports as the best prospect in the minors.

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