When the Cincinnati Reds signed Alfredo Rodriguez last summer, and even when they were rumored to have him all but signed on the dotted line in February of 2016, I was quite vocal about the price that they were paying for the Cuban export. It was easy to understand the interest in wanting to bring him into the organization. The price, however, seemed significantly higher than it should have been.

While in Cuba Alfredo Rodriguez was known for his glove. He was rangy at shortstop with good hands and a strong arm. No one questioned his ability to play in the field. At the plate it was a different story. In the one year that he played in the Cuban National Series (their highest level of professional leagues), he hit .265/.301/.284 on the season. Low walks and no power is not a good way to be productive as a hitter. After he signed in July the Reds sent him to the Dominican Summer League. Things didn’t go well for the 22-year-old. He hit .234/.333/.299 in 22 games. To be fair, he was hit by a pitch in the middle of that stretch and missed two weeks. It also came after nearly two years of not playing in a competitive game. Still, given that he was four years older than the average pitcher in the league, the numbers put up were disappointing.

Last week I was able to see Alfredo Rodriguez play in person for the first time. There hasn’t even been much video available online, and almost all of the video that was available was from his time in Cuba. Given that his previous play took place in the Dominican Republic or instructional league, there were very few people out there watching him that weren’t employees of the Reds.  There were some good things that came out after his signing, though. He had reportedly bulked up some from his time in Cuba and those reports proved to be quite true. He’s no longer the thin player that he was while in Cuba.

Let’s start off with the defense. There’s only one play in the video above, and it’s far from a tough play. With that said I was able to see him make several outstanding plays. His hands, his footwork, the arm – they all stick out. While he never had to let a throw go on any play, you could see that he wasn’t trying and the ball still carried well. Everything was smooth. That’s not surprising at all given all that we knew.

Offensively things have been messy in the past as we discussed above. He has struggled to perform in the past. His swing seemed to be a bit mechanical in batting practice the first day that I saw him. In the games it the swing was less mechanical, but mostly he seemed to be trying to hit the ball up the middle and the other way. Over the course of a few days I saw him pull two baseballs. One went for the double in the video above. Rodriguez has some bat speed. He’s gotten stronger from his days in Cuba. In a very small sample, he seemed to have a good idea of the strikezone.

What does the future hold for Alfredo Rodriguez?

The Cincinnati Reds overpaid for Alfredo Rodriguez in my mind. But there are plenty of things to like with him, even offensively. For as much as I’ve written about his past issues at the plate, he *looked* much better than I expected. There’s still plenty of work to do, and so much to prove, but I believe there’s enough there for him to hit in the future enough to be a starting caliber shortstop. That’s not to say that he will – there’s plenty of work to be done, but there’s a chance that he could hit for a solid average. There’s a chance that he could show some gap power with some home runs mixed in there (10 wouldn’t be out of the question). The critics of the bat were warranted. But so were the people from the Reds who said there’s a chance he could hit.

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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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