For all 2016 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out one a day over the offseason).
The 2015 season was a big one for Yorman Rodriguez. Despite being just 22-years-old, it was slated to be the last season in which he could play in the minor leagues as he would be out of options after the 2015 campaign.
The month of April did not get out to a strong start. For the first three weeks of the season, the young outfielder hit .176 over the first 16 games. He would get things moving in the right direction over the final four games, going 4-13 with a double and a triple.
Rodriguez would carry that forward into May, hitting .308 over the first 10 games of the month with five extra-base hits. That didn’t last long as he would go into a slump over the next week, going 3-29 with all three hits being for extra-bases. The month would finish up with the final nine games seeing him hit .324 and slugging .541 as he turned things back around, but overall on the month he would hit just .257/.278/.476. The power was there, but he walked just three times in 108 plate appearances.
The hot finish in May carried over to June. The outfielder put together his best month of the season, hitting .321/.374/.434. In 115 plate appearances he walked nine times, a big improvement from the earlier two months in the season in which he had just seven total walks and he struck out 25 times (21.7%). The power took a step backwards with just six extra-base hits after having 13 in May, but the rest of the offensive production was far greater.
July started out well as Rodriguez hit .333 with a home run over the first five games of the month. Then the Reds would call the Venezuelan to the big leagues. He would not appear in a game for the Reds before returning to Louisville. After not playing in a game for 10 days, he returned to the Bats lineup. After just five games though he would strain a calf muscle and would end up playing his last game of the season on July 21st.
After hitting just .237/.267/.420 in April and May, Rodriguez adjusted well in June and July. In 150 plate appearances once the calendar flipped to June he would hit .309/.356/.439, all while improving his walk and strikeout rates. Overall his season looks solid, but unspectacular and he’s certainly going to need to increase his walk rate compared to where it was in 2015 if he’s going to play regularly at the big league level.
Hitting | Rodriguez has an above-average raw hitting tool, but he currently struggles to get the most out of it. He’s able to use the entire field and can do so with some power, but his pitch selection holds back his ability to hit for a high average right now.
Power | Rodriguez has 20-25 home run power in the future to tap into if he’s able to get the most from his game, perhaps even a few more at his peak. The ball carries off of his bat at times, particularly to the opposite field on balls that don’t seem well struck at contact. His approach is to go up the middle and to the opposite field more often than he pulls the ball and nine of his 10 home runs in 2015 went to center or to right field. If he learns which balls to pull as he continues to mature, his power could really take that step forward.
Running | Despite low stolen base totals throughout his career, Rodriguez is a plus runner. He’s turned in times to first base under 4.20 at times and moves well once he gets going out of the box.
Arm | Another plus tool that Rodriguez brings to the table. It’s a weapon in both center and in right field.
Defense | This is an area where Rodriguez could use more seasoning. Over the years he has improved defensively and it’s not necessarily that he’s a bad defender, because he’s not. The issue is more of a judgement thing at this point. He will often pull up early on baseballs that may be catchable had he simply run through the play, but instead plays things safe instead of going for it. His reads and effort in the field have improved – early in his career he was known to ‘dog it’ in the field at times, but that’s a function of the past. He’s got enough speed to play in center field and hold his own, but probably grades out as a slightly below-average guy right now at the position. In the corners his arm and range both play very well.
From a pure raw tools perspective, there aren’t many players in the organization that can rival the total package the Yorman Rodriguez offers. He’s above-average in every tool. With that said, his current skillsets aren’t all there. His plate discipline, while better than his strikeout-to-talk ratio in 2015 suggests, still needs improvement. The fact that he is out of options and must be in the Major Leagues moving forward will make for an interesting dilemma for the Reds. With the 2016 season being one where they are rebuilding, will they just go with the 23-year-old as an every day player and let him continue to develop, or will they try to mix-and-match him and limit his playing time? He’s generally been a guy who makes the adjustments after he struggles and looking forward to 2016 it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him struggle early on before starting to take steps forward.
The upside for Rodriguez is likely that of a bat first center fielder with plenty of power and a solid average. The downside is that the hit tool doesn’t fully develop and he becomes more of a 4th outfielder who can provide defense around the outfield and some pop off of the bench.