No. 1 Pitching Prospect Grayson Rodriguez Possibly Out Until 2023 with Lat Injury

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 5, 2022

Sarasota, FL - JUL 17: 2018 Baltimore Orioles first round pick Grayson Rodriguez (36) delivers a pitch to the plate during the Gulf Coast League (GCL) game between the GCL Twins and the GCL Orioles on July 17, 2018, at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Baltimore Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez could miss the rest of the 2022 season because of a Grade 2 right lat strain.

General manager Mike Elias announced Sunday that the pitcher will be shut down with the forecast of returning by September, although he might be out until 2023.

"I mean, the timing of this really stinks, is all I can say," Elias said. "He was basically at the point of checking every box you could think of in terms of his minor league work. I think that he's shown that if he's healthy and himself, we want him to be in a position to help this team next year out of spring training."

Rodriguez is rated the top pitching prospect in baseball and No. 3 player overall by MLB.com.

The 22-year-old was a first-round pick in the 2018 draft and has excelled at every stage of the minor leagues.

Through 11 starts in Triple-A this season, Rodriguez has a 5-1 record with a 2.09 ERA, 0.839 WHIP and 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He allowed just three total earned runs in his last six starts.

The right-hander pitched 5.2 scoreless innings Wednesday before leaving with lat discomfort. He underwent multiple MRIs, which revealed the extent of the injury.

"There's probably a lot of variability to the exact amount of weeks that this takes for him to get back out to competition," Elias said. "It just kind of depends how it goes."

The Orioles likely won't rush Rodriguez back to the mound considering his long-term potential. Elias said the organization will be "as careful as possible" to avoid re-injury.

Baltimore entered Sunday in last place in the American League East with a 23-32 record.