After his third rough start in May and a 7.35 ERA in 10 appearances this season, top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez has been sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles announced Saturday.
Rodriguez, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft, began the year in Norfolk but was quickly promoted. He debuted against the Texas Rangers on April 5 and pitched five innings, allowing two runs.
The 23-year-old had other productive starts, including two straight in April in which he did not allow a run, but he struggled in May, posting an 11.14 ERA over five starts in the month.
Left-handed relief pitcher Keegan Akin was recalled from Norfolk in a corresponding move.
After two poor performances recently, the Orioles’ pitching department identified ways Rodriguez was tipping his pitches. The 6-foot-5 fireballer altered his stance with runners on base and lowered his glove, a “minor mechanical adjustment,” he said, “just to help me conceal the baseball more.”
Against the Toronto Blue Jays last week, it proved to be effective, but he had another dismal outing Friday. Facing the Rangers, he allowed three home runs — including a grand slam by Corey Seager — as he gave up eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, taking the loss while the Orioles fell 12-2.
“Obviously, got some guys on, didn’t make good pitches and had to pay for it,” Rodriguez said Friday night.
Manager Brandon Hyde noted that in Rodriguez’s previous start against Toronto, he’d been “competitive” in allowing two runs in five innings. That wasn’t the case Friday as the Orioles suffered their most lopsided loss of the season.
“Stuff was good, just for me had a tough time commanding the ball tonight,” Hyde said.
This story will be updated.