|Red Sox Acquire Top Indy League Prospect Rodriguez||10.16.09 at 5:09 pm ET|
The Red Sox purchased the contract of Reynaldo Rodriguez, the 2009 Rookie of the Year in the independent Golden Baseball League, from the Yuma Scorpions of the Golden Baseball League. Playing for a team owned by former Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria and his brother, Edinson, the native of Colombia hit .335 with a .380 OBP and .486 slugging mark while adding six homers, 48 RBIs and 18 steals (in 21 attempts) to his line in 74 games. He was named the GBL’s top prospect by Baseball America.
Rodriguez played first base for the Scorpions, though it is unclear whether that would be his most likely position in affiliated baseball. He exhibits more speed (and less power) than players who usually stay at that position.
“He’s not a prototypical first baseman. He’s kind of lean and wiry. He’s just not a big, burly power-hitting first baseman,” said Yuma President Mike Marshall, who spent several years in the majors with the Dodgers, as well as portions of 1990-91 with the Red Sox. “He’s a guy that hits for average. Everywhere he goes, he hits .330, .340. He’s a gap hitter [with] a lot of power to right and right center. He uses the whole field and has occasional power, but he’s more of a hitter. You think of a power hitting first baseman – he’s not that. He’s an average, RBI, stolen bases gap hitter with occasional power. He really handles the bat well. Doesn’t strike out much. He looks kind of like [current Dodgers first baseman James] Loney from the right side.”
At 22 (he turns 23 on Jan. 1), Rodriguez is unusually young for a prospect signed out of an independent league. He spent a couple years in the Yankees’ farm system (after signing with the Yankees as a catcher) and performed well as an older player in the Dominican Summer League, where he finished among the league leaders in average in both 2005 and 2007. But he was hampered by an arm injury and released in ’07.
Rodriguez returned to Colombia, where he was one of the better hitters in the Colombian winter leagues. There, as was the case in the GBL, he showed an ability to hit well against much older competition. He shows a consistent ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball, and his athleticism, solid performance and the low cost of acquiring him convinced the Sox that it was worth taking a shot at signing him. Marshall suggested that Rodriguez “absolutely” could represent a diamond-in-the-rough with big-league potential, though Marshall qualified that assessment.
“I don’t know his past, but I know that he’s young enough to be able to move up through the ranks,” said Marshall. “This isn’t a rookie league or an A-ball league anymore. There’s Double-A, Triple-A and big league guys all over the place. The same is true when he goes back to Columbia. Do you project him as a big leaguer? I don’t know. That’s a tough thing. The position he plays right now, sometimes they want a little more power. I will say this – he was a top five hitter in this league.”
The Sox will follow Rodriguez during his winter league season in Colombia to consider whether he will compete for a job as a first baseman or outfielder. Rodriguez will come to spring training on a tryout basis, giving the Red Sox time before deciding if they want to sign him to a contract for the 2010 season.
The Sox have been increasingly aggressive in recent years in trying to acquire top independent league talent, as evidence by the acquisitions of outfielder Daniel Nava (who hit .352 with a .458 OBP and .533 slugging mark this year as a 26-year-old splitting this year in High A and Double A ball) and relievers Robert Coello (2.05 ERA as a 24-year-old in High A Salem) and Derek Loop (4-3, 1.89 as a 25-year-old for Salem and Portland this year).
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