Eduardo Rodriguez will give Orioles fans a glimpse of what could have been

Late last summer, in the midst of a pennant rush, the Baltimore Orioles sent their No. 3 prospect, Eduardo Rodriguez, a 22-year-old Venezuelan left-hander, to the Boston Red Sox for two months of Andrew Miller‘s services.

Miller was great, and his 34 strikeouts in 20 innings with the Orioles were extremely valuable in helping the Orioles reach the ALCS. Unfortunately for the Orioles, the creation of the second Wild Card spot leaves more teams in contention and willing to make a trade for an asset like Miller. In all, the Orioles were up against 20 teams, and the price for Miller was high.

At the time of the trade, Rodriguez had a 4.79 ERA at Double-A Bowie. He still had incredible upside, and the Orioles had brought him along slowly since signing him as a 17-year-old. There was still, however, a lot of uncertainty about his future. Things turned around immediately for Rodriguez when he reached the Red Sox organization. He went 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA in six starts for Double-A Portland, and then opened the season with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Rodriguez is now two starts into his Major League career, and will take the ball tonight in Baltimore. He is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA in 14.2 innings. Featuring a fastball that has touched 98 m.p.h. and a plus slider and change-up, Rodriguez has struck out 14, and looked every bit the future ace his lofty prospect rankings would have predicted him to be.

Orioles’ management has defended their decision to trade away Rodriguez, and even in hindsight, it still looks like a good deal. Combined with Zach Britton and Darren O’Day, the Orioles had a bullpen good enough to reach the World Series. Unfortunately, so did the Kansas City Royals. Prospects like Rodriguez must be sacrificed in an effort to win a championship. While it looks bad the next year when neither player suits up for the Orioles, the decision would not have been questioned had Baltimore reached the World Series.

The future looks bright for Eduardo Rodriguez, and he may very well be the cornerstone of the Boston rotation moving forward. It would not surprise me if he dominates the Orioles tonight. He can get strikeouts with all three of his pitches, and the Orioles’ lineup should take their hacks obligingly. If that sets off cries of anguish from Baltimore faithful, so be it. Trading Rodriguez was the cost of doing business as a team with a viable shot at a World Series title.

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