It seems like forever ago that the Cincinnati Reds inked a 16-year old Venezuelan, described as a “human tool shed” and a “potential five-tool monster,”to a lucrative $2.5 million dollar signing bonus. However, in 2014, Yorman Rodriguez amazingly just completed his age 21 season, which began in Double-A Pensacola and ended with a cup of coffee in the big leagues with the Reds.
Rodriguez came out of the gate cold, as he hit just .184/.256/.263 in his first 10 games. This slow start was partly attributed to an unlucky .231 BABIP, but the young outfielder did display a strong 9.3% walk rate. He clearly was not dejected though, because beginning April 16th, he went on a nine-game hit streak, batting a blistering .462/.475/.615. Unfortunately, his hot streak would be cut off due to an injured oblique, which landed him on the disabled list on April 26th.
The injury would not keep Rodriguez out of the lineup for long, as he returned on May 8th against the Chattanooga Lookouts. In retrospect, maybe he could have used some extra time to rest his oblique, because he suffered through a horrendous month of May, hitting .139/.184/.208 and fanning in 34.8% of his plate appearances. Besides a three-game mini-tear from May 12-14, in which he hit .545, Rodriguez collected only four hits in his other 61 at-bats in May.
After a sluggish start to June, in which Rodriguez hit .163/.200/.186 over his first 11 games, the young outfielder reclaimed his stroke. On June 15th, he embarked on his second nine-game hitting streak of the year, slashing .410/.452/.615 with a 7/3 K/BB ratio. Despite a hot finish to the month of June, Rodriguez was unable to continue the momentum, as he scuffled to hit a soft .174 with no extra base hits, in his first seven games in July. For the month, Rodriguez posted a mediocre .264/.316/.330, but he did hit safely in his final five games, including two multi-hit games, which would be a sign of things to come for the outfielder.
In August, Rodriguez produced one of his best months as a pro, as he flashed all of the tools that make him such an intriguing offensive prospect. He showed off his plus power potential, with a .235 ISO, and his above-average speed swiping five bases in as many attempts. During a 12-game hitting streak from August 15-26, Rodriguez absolutely smoked the ball, hitting .432/.526/.841, cranking four home runs, and posting a 19.3% walk rate. For the month, he slashed an impressive .294/.408/.529 with a very strong 29/20 K/BB ratio, and earned a promotion to the big league club for September.
During his time with the Reds, Rodriguez was utilized very sparingly, as he was only given seven starts. In his first taste of the bigs, he struggled, hitting .222/.276/.222. Despite his underwhelming 29 plate appearances, the 22-year old was able to impress his manager, which bodes well for his chances to earn a call-up if the Reds need outfield help in 2015.
Although it seems as though Yorman Rodriguez’s tenure with Reds organization has been about as lengthy as Barry Larkin’s career, he enters 2015 at just 22 years of age. He continued to show progression with his plate discipline and flashes of his enormous potential in 2014. He will look to sharpen his skills in AAA Louisville in 2015, in hopes of attaining a full time gig with the Reds in 2016.
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