Orioles pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez will return from the disabled list Thursday against Akron, joining a a Double-A Bowie rotation that has pitched well in his absence.
Rodriguez has been on the disabled list with a knee injury, and he made just three starts before he was shut down. When he did pitch, Rodriguez was nowhere near the form he displayed last year. Rodriguez was 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.50 before the injury.
Rodriguez, 21, burst onto the prospect scene in 2013 with a combined 10-7 record and a 3.41 ERA between Bowie and High-A Frederick. He was dominant in Frederick, making 14 starts with a 2.85 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings for the Keys. He struggled to adjust to Double-A before finishing with a 4-3 record and a 4.22 ERA in 11 starts for Bowie.
The left-hander from Venezuela works with a 91-93 mph fastball that he can locate on either side of the plate, and complements it with a low-80s slider that has better movement at slower speeds and an effective mid-80s changeup.
Rodriguez will pitch five innings or 75 pitches, according to my colleague Dan Connolly, who reported the news on Twitter earlier this afternoon.
Bowie’s rotation has been strong even without Rodriguez, who entered the season as the team’s No. 3 prospect behind right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.
Left-hander Tim Berry has allowed one run or fewer in six of his first nine starts of the year en route to 3-1 record and a 3.68 ERA. Tyler Wilson, a right-hander from Virginia, is coming off his longest outing of the season (seven innings) and has a 3.73 ERA in nine starts.
The rotation could be further bolstered by the return of Zach Davies, who went on the disabled list with a shoulder issue but is expected to return May 29.
Good reports on Walker, Alvarez
Last night in Frederick, I spoke to a few scouts who have watched a Bowie series this year.
One called Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez one of the biggest sleepers in the minors, thanks in part to mechanical adjustments in his swing. The athletic 25-year-old didn’t impress me last year, but I look forward to getting a better look this year to see what's different. Alvarez is batting .345/.359/.575 with eight home runs, 14 doubles and 39 RBIs.
Additionally, he was impressed with the power development of 2012 fourth-round pick Christian Walker. Having seen the 23-year-old in college, the scout said he believed he would always hit for average. But his team-leading 10 home runs are an encouraging sign.
Both of these players are targets for me in the coming weeks, when I hope to be able to sit on a few Bowie games and get a feel for them. Schedules haven’t permitted me to get out to Bowie and Frederick as much as I’d like, but hopefully that will change going forward.