In the Cincinnati Reds prospect world Alfredo Rodriguez is a bit of a lightning rod. When the Reds were announced to have agreed to sign him for over $6M out of Cuba, there was a general question of “that sounds like a lot for a guy who has not hit at all in Cuba, right?” As a 20-year-old he won the rookie of the year award in the Cuban National Series, but it was because of what he could do with the glove. He hit .265/.301/.284 in 84 games with 3 doubles and a triple. You couldn’t really find a scouting report from anywhere at the time that had any belief that he’d do much hitting, either.
The Reds would officially sign Rodriguez seven months later when the next signing period opened up. And they signed him for more than was initially expected, giving him a $7M bonus. That season he spent about a month playing against teenagers in the Dominican Summer League. While he had missed nearly 2 years of time between his last season in Cuba and his time in the DSL, as a 22-year-old he hit .234/.333/.299 in 22 games played. The next season the Reds got aggressive with his assignment and placed him at Advanced-A Daytona. In a full season there he hit just .253/.294/.294.
Last year the Reds moved him up to Doule-A Pensacola to start the year, but two weeks into the year he injured his wrist and spent two months recovering. When he came back he was sent to Daytona and after a week there he went back to the disabled list for five weeks. At the very end of July he returned to Daytona for the rest of the season. His playing time was limited due to injuries, but between Pensacola and Daytona he hit just .204/.272/.299 on the season.
Three seasons in and he had yet to have a slugging percentage over .300. Three seasons in and his career on-base percentage was .294. Things were looking bad. They were looking very bad. And unfortunately, they were looking much like all of the scouting reports prior to his signing suggested they would look.
This season the now 25-year-old shortstop is playing in Double-A Chattanooga. And things are looking quite a bit differently in the stat sheet for Alfredo Rodriguez. Through 66 games he’s hitting .314. His on-base percentage is .349. And his slugging percentage is .369. All of those numbers are easily career bests.
His walk rate is near his career low – just 5.2% on the season. But his strikeout rate is also at a career low. He’s striking out just 12.5% of the time this season for the Lookouts. That, coupled with a career best .362 BABIP has his offense looking quite a bit differently than it has in the past.
Now, all of his improved offense is simply more singles. While his slugging percentage is a career high .369, his isolated power, is at it’s second lowest – just .055. The extra-base hits simply aren’t there. Or at least they weren’t until recently. In the last 10 games Alfredo Rodriguez has doubled five times and tripled once. That accounts for as many doubles, and triples, as he had in the previous 55 games on the season. In that stretch he’s been locked in, too – hitting .409/.435/.568 with just 3 strikeouts in 47 trips to the plate.
It’s been a long process. Injuries certainly haven’t helped. Alfredo Rodriguez has dealt with both knee and wrist injuries since signing – both of which could certainly play a factor in keeping a guy from hitting as well as they otherwise would. Still, we’re finally seeing some progress at the plate for Rodriguez. Cutting down on the strikeouts has certainly helped. More contact usually leads to more hits. And at least for now, that’s exactly what has happened for the shortstop. The recent power surge is nice to see, too.