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Baltimore Orioles

Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez to pitch for Aberdeen on Thursday in first game action since lat injury

Grayson Rodriguez, the Orioles’ top pitching prospect, will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Aberdeen on Thursday, the IronBirds announced.

Rodriguez, who Baseball America ranks as the top pitcher in the minors, will return to game action three months to the day after he exited a June 1 start for Triple-A Norfolk with what proved to be a Grade 2 right lat muscle strain. At the time, the 22-year-old right-hander was seemingly on the cusp of a promotion to the majors, having struck out 80 batters over 56 innings with a 2.09 ERA for the Tides.

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It’s not yet clear how many pitches or innings the Orioles plan to have Rodriguez, their first-round draft pick in 2018, throw Thursday. Last week, he threw a bullpen, live batting practice session and simulated game at the club’s Sarasota, Florida, complex in his most significant workload since the injury.

The Orioles’ rotation has a 2.19 ERA over the past 12 games while averaging more than six innings per start, but a pitcher of Rodriguez’s talent would surely add to a group pushing for a playoff spot. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said the organization hoped to have Rodriguez work his way back to Norfolk and then “we’ll just take it from there,” meaning there are no guarantees he joins Baltimore before the season ends.

Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez, who Baseball America ranks as the top pitcher in the minors, will return to game action three months to the day after he exited a June 1 start for Triple-A Norfolk with what proved to be a Grade 2 right lat muscle strain.

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