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Orioles introduce top pick Grayson Rodriguez as 'potential top-of-the-rotation starter'

Sitting beside Grayson Rodriguez, the man he last week made the Orioles' top draft pick and on Tuesday officially signed to a professional contract, Orioles amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich listed off a host of credentials and qualifications — his mid-90s fastball, his four-pitch mix, his competitiveness, and his on-line delivery.

It all added up to what made Rodriguez their man at No. 11 overall in the first round June 4.

"In a nutshell, Grayson checks all the boxes when you're looking for a potential top-of-the-rotation starter," Rajsich said. "That's what we think he'll be. We're very happy to make him an Oriole today."

Before Rodriguez put on his fresh Orioles cap and jersey, he said the same.

"It's every boy's dream to be drafted one day," he said. "I got drafted by the Orioles and that was just a dream come true for me. I couldn't be happier. I couldn't be more happy to be a part of this great organization, and I'm ready to get to work."

Rodriguez was the first of the Orioles' 40 picks to sign after last week's draft, with a signing bonus of $4.3 million. He's been in town for a few days, getting to know some members of the organization and dining at Jimmy's Seafood. Now that he and his family got Tuesday’s ceremony out of the way, he's ready to get on to his job.

"I couldn't even begin to describe the experience," Rodriguez said. "It's very stress-relieving, I guess you can say. A lot of players, it's a lot longer of a process for them. But everything went smoothly with us, and I just couldn't be happier."

Rajsich said Rodriguez was flying to Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday to report to the club's spring training facility before beginning his professional career.

"Once he does his little initiation and orientation down there, he'll probably start down there at the Gulf Coast League," Rajsich said. "Beyond that, I don't want to say, because I'm not in charge of player development."

Rodriguez looks forward to the opportunity of facing fellow professionals and beginning the long process of proving himself at each step in the minors. He said his delivery has often been compared to that of former Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez, and the way he attacks hitters is modeled after New York Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard.

"I'm very excited to start playing with the best," Rodriguez said. "I want to see where I stack up. In my opinion, I believe it's at the very top, so I'm just ready to show my skills and abilities and go from there."

Beyond signing Rodriguez, the Orioles have also have inked fifth-round pick Robert Neustrom, an outfielder from the University of Iowa, and Rajsich said he’s confident most of the club’s other top-five round picks will also agree to terms in the coming days..

The exceptions are the Orioles’ three picks after Rodriguez. Their competitive balance pick, Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier, and third-round pick Blaine Knight, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Arkansas, are both still playing as their teams have reached the College World Series, which starts Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

Fourth-round pick Drew Rom, a left-hander from Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., is playing in the Kentucky state high school semifinals this weekend.

Those players could sign shortly after their respective seasons end, Rajsich said.

On Tuesday night, the Orioles announced the signings of Neustrom, left-hander Kevin Magee (ninth round), right-hander Dallas Litscher (10th), right-hander Parker McFadden (16th), right-hander Jake Zebron (18th), infielder Ian Evans (26th), left-hander Jason Montville (27th), catcher Jared Denning (29th), right-hander Tyler Joyner (30th), left-hander Jayvien Sandridge (32nd), infielder Zach McLeod (33rd), outfielder Trey Truitt (34th), catcher Matt Beaird (36th) and right-hander Andrew Ciolli (37th)

Neustrom, who signed to a bonus just below his slot value of $361,000, has reported to Short-A Aberdeen and will make his pro debut with the IronBirds later this week.

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