Yesterday the rumors came out that the Cincinnati Reds had agreed to terms with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez (listed as Aldredo Rodriguez on Baseball Reference). To be blunt, as I wrote at the time, the deal was very confusing given the price that they paid for a player who seems to be all glove, absolutely no bat. The picture painted wasn’t a pretty one given the scouting reports that we did have access to and the stats that he put up in the Cuban league in his lone year at the highest level there.

Today I thought I would try to take a look at paint a better picture for the reported new signing by the Reds.

The first thing is that by any and all accounts, he’s an absolute stud in the field. He won a gold glove (or the equivalent) at shortstop while in Cuba. No one seems to doubt that he’s going to be valuable with the glove at the most important position on the infield (sans catcher). He’s also considered a plus runner, meaning he’s probably going to bring you some value on the base paths, both in terms of adding steals as well as taking extra bases on hits by others.

The major concern with Alfredo Rodriguez has been his bat, or lack thereof. In his lone season at the highest level in Cuba, at age 20, ht hit just .265/.301/.284 with 11 walks and 38 strikeouts. That .586 OPS was the 3rd worst in the league. He was also one of just six players in the league who was under the age of 21 who had at least 170 plate appearances.

He performed very, very poorly at the plate. There’s no denying that. But he was also one of the youngest players in the league that was getting regular playing time. That certainly suggest that he would have improved moving forward for a few years had he stayed in Cuba rather than defect.

And there may be some evidence that he could indeed improve. Eric Longenhagen touched on Rodriguez in a recent ESPN Insider article and had this to say:

he has a natural all-fields bat path, a compact stroke and an athletic build that will likely add a little bit of good weight.

There’s more to the article, so if you’re an ESPN Insider subscriber, go check it out.

If we combine that report with the ones that report that his swing is pretty much all arms and no lower body, we can start to understand why he had absolutely no power in Cuba, but why a team could believe that he may be able to hit a little bit in the future. It would obviously take time and plenty of work to retool his swing, get him to use his body more than just his arms, but at just 21-years-old, it’s not unheard of to fix a players swing and start to get a lot more out of them.

How much more could be gotten out of him is the ultimate question here. Bigger and stronger would certainly help. He was listed at 5′ 10″ and 180 lbs. while in Cuba, but he’s recently been measured at 5′ 10″ and 195 lbs, already having packed on a decent amount of size since he last played in a game. It would seem that the Reds are still taking plenty of risk on with this deal given how much they are needing to project a 21-year-old, but perhaps the increase in size and the belief that they can work with his swing to find gains when coupled with his speed and defense will provide more value than the initial reactions to the deal first brought.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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