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.

11 Responses

  1. Cguy

    Late bloomer alert. At some point, Alfredo has to stop hitting—–or not!

  2. DaveCT

    Credit where it’s due, he is accomplishing career bests at AA, not Billings. It’s still hard to see him as a ML regular, however. This is in part because I’d expect big league pitchers to simply knock the bat out of his hands. Sort of like Billy Hamilton from his weaker batting side (sorry can’t remember which one). Still, if he continues to hold his own, are we looking at 2021 or 22? And with his fellow Cuban, Garcia, on his tail. That said, this is a roundabout way of saying I’d like to see us extend Jose Iglesias. Great defense, good hitting, some pop, and obvious intangibles, and just 29 turning 30. And, I believe, mentorship to the two young Cubanos following in his path.

  3. Hoyce

    Hated the signing when it happened. Looks a little better now. But still don’t see him as anything but a backup/def replacement. Seemed like the reds could have done soooo much more w that $$. Like we were missing some part of that deal somehow.

  4. Jim Delaney

    Has he added any weight to his frame? I am wondering if he has gotten bigger and stronger and that has helped. Wondering if his frame could add a little more to give him gap power.

  5. Amarillo

    I remember hearing at the time that one of the reasons for that signing was to show the Buscones that the Reds are willing to sign guys for big bonuses, which will encourage the agents to work with our organization.

    • Michael Smith

      @Amarillo

      Not sure how signing a Cuban defector helps with Buscones. Plus the reds had already spent big money on Iglesias and zchapman

      • Amarillo

        Ahh right, that doesn’t make a ton of sense. I might be remembering incorrectly.

    • Michael Smith

      @Amarillo

      Are you thinking of Oliva whose in Greenville and was a big bonus kid in that time period?

  6. MK

    I think I recall David Bell talking about J.Iglesias’s improved hitting saying many middle infielders improve offensively as they get older. Maybe that is what is going on here. I’ve agreed with Doug that it would be nice to leave him in AA to continue to have success but maybe he needs to go to AAA so they can better make an extension plan for Jose ( one or two years, etc.).
    Alf was paid first round money and guys who get first round money typically get to play in big leagues. Sometimes it can be all about the financial investment.

  7. Charlie

    When any other prospect hit in the .250’s at Daytona we hear about it being a pitchers league, ballpark sucks, etc. This guy has basically been rising through the ranks about as well as can be expected considering the injuries. He’s only a “lightning rod” because writers and so-called-experts raised the flag as to his signing being a mistake, which brought more focus and attention to him. Even if he doesn’t ever suit up for the Reds, he’s hardly a worse signing than some of the pathetic draft picks this organization has made the past decade.

  8. Patrick

    Jose Iglesias might be a good potential comparison for Alfrod’s potential in the majors.