2019 Level: Low-A (Delmarva)
Pitches (current/future value)
Most Likely Future Role: Middle of the Rotation starter
Ceiling: Top of the rotation starter
What we know: What not to like? A 6-foot-5, 220 pound 19-year old with four pitches, all of which have flashed plus at time suggesting they all could end up above average offerings. You want dominance of older competition? How about holding batters to a .171/.263/.255/.518 slash line including a mind boggling 165/.242/.222/.463 line to right-handed batters as a 19-year old in the Sally League. You want improvement throughout the year? Rodriguez’s velocity went from 89-92, t94 earlier in the season to sitting 93-95, t97 by mid-July. You want improving and new secondaries? His changeup went from a crude pitch when he was drafted to a pitch that flashed plus at times last season, becoming a weapon against left-handers with good fade and tumble. He throws a slow curveball and a hard one at times coming in anywhere between 74 to 82 MPH and then he added a slider during the season that by July was a weapon against right-handers that racked up strikeouts. You want the ability to keep the ball in the yard? He allowed just four home runs all season and put up a solid 43.8% GB percentage. Command right now is pretty solid for a young pitcher, but it’s what he’ll need to continue to improve as he moves up the ladder. He can occasionally go through some wild spells and had starts with five and six walks, but overall he only walked more than two batters in any start just four times in 20 starts.
What we don’t know: The Orioles rightfully kept kid gloves on him a bit and only allowed him to throw more than 90 pitches three times all season so it’s unknown how he will be able to hold his stuff deep into games. However, he was strong late in the season and there was no noticeable drop in stuff in his last few innings of his appearances.
What we think: Rodriguez has all the makings of a mid-rotation starter with a chance to be a top of the rotation starter if he can keep his stuff late in games near 90-110 pitches. Rodriguez is everything you look for in a young starter and if he had gone to college, he would have been one of, if not the best pitcher in college last year as a freshman.
Another Take: Prototypical starting pitcher frame with an unorthodox delivery. Ceiling will be determined by how much velocity he can hold and how well he can sharpen his two promising but inconsistent breaking balls. High spin fastball and advanced feel for his new changeup give him a high floor. (Luke Siler)