Orioles top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez promoted to Double-A Bowie

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Orioles top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez promoted to Double-A originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Orioles fans looking forward to the future of winning baseball in Baltimore have something to celebrate on Friday, as the team announced they would be promoting top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez to Double-A Bowie.

Rodriguez was the team's first-round pick in 2018 and has done nothing but dominate batters since the day he stepped on a mound for the organization. In five starts this month, Rodriguez has a 1.54 ERA and a whopping 40 strikeouts in just 23.1 innings. He has 189 strikeouts in his minor league career compared to just 48 walks.

General manager Mike Elias announced Rodriguez's promotion on Friday morning.

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"We saw last night Grayson Rodriguez have just another dominant performance at High-A, so we feel he’s ready for Double-A," Elias told 105.7 The Fan. "He’ll be sliding up there for his next appearance and joining the Bowie Baysox."

Fans are naturally excited to see Rodriguez continue to develop and take another step close to the majors, but it's also thrilling to get to see the future core of the O's playing on the same field.

According to MLB Pipeline, five of the top 10 Orioles in the organization will be playing in Bowie for the time being, with Rodriguez joining Terrin Vavra, Michael Baumann, DL Hall and, of course, Adley Rutschman. And it's a top-heavy group — most scouting services have Rutschman, Rodriguez and Hall as the top three prospects in the organization, with Rutschman generally considered a top-five prospect in the sport, Rodriguez top-25 and Hall top-60.

It will be particularly intriguing to see how Rodriguez develops a rapport with Rutschman behind the plate. The 2019 number one overall pick hasn't seen much game action yet in his professional career as a result of the pandemic, but a number of pitching prospects have already raved about how much having him behind the plate has helped their numbers.

Kyle Bradish, who just recently was promoted to Triple-A, spoke highly of his time in Bowie on Friday.

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"I think there's just kind of a different vibe in Bowie," Bradish told Glenn Clark Radio. "Everyone's working off each other, and just knowing that this thing's going to take off in a couple years, and it's going to be very fun to be a part of."

Visions of Rodriguez and Hall dominating big games with Rutschman behind the plate in Baltimore have danced in the heads of O's fans for years at this point, and getting to see them all together at the same level will only add to that excitement.

With the Orioles currently owning the worst record in the big leagues, it's easy for fans to feel like the next contending O's roster is still years away. But prospect analysts like MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis feel like it may be closer than we think — especially if guys like Rodriguez continue to press the issue.

If he keeps pitching like this...I think at some point he's going to force his way to the big leagues," Callis told 105.7 The Fan on Friday afternoon. "It's probably 2022, but I don't think you're going to be able to slow him down too much...I think he's going to be really, really good."

Early on in his tenure, Mike Elias appeared to prefer a slower, more cautious approach with promoting his top prospects. But in 2021, he is looking to push guys more aggressively, and he implied that Rodriguez likely won't be the only top prospect getting the call soon.

"We take a lot of time talking about them, especially when it comes to our top prospects. We’re one month into our minor league season, these guys didn’t get to play last year, and we’re in a position to start to feel good about what some players are doing and react to it," Elias said. "We’ve got some really talented kids off to some really good starts, and we want to keep challenging them and have them encounter some tougher competition and struggles, because that’s how you get better."