There wasn’t a lot to like from the Cincinnati Reds 13-5 loss to Oakland on Monday afternoon, but not everything was bad. Alfredo Rodriguez went 2-2 with a single and a home run. There’s been a lot written about Rodriguez, even before he signed, about the non-belief in his bat. And to be fair, many of those words were warranted. In his minor league career he’s hit .252/.302/.310, and only at one stop has he really shown any signs of life at the plate – in 2019 when he hit .286/.325/.347 with Double-A Chattanooga. But a promotion to Louisville down the stretch that season saw him struggle, hitting just .169/.261/.221 in 23 games.
Following the 2019 season Alfredo Rodriguez saw some action in the Dominican Winter League, hitting for a .309 average and posting a .351 on-base percentage in 19 games. But his only extra-base hit was a double, leading to a .324 slugging percentage. In spring training of 2020 he was out to a good start, hitting .364 with two home runs in 33 at-bats. But that’s where things ended as spring training came to a halt mid-March. Rodriguez was at the Reds alternate site in 2020, but he didn’t get a chance to come up to the big leagues.
Over the last two years of spring training Alfredo Rodriguez has had 35 total plate appearances and he’s hit three home runs. The most home runs he’s ever hit in a single minor league season is two. Unfortunately we haven’t gotten a chance to really see if there’s any reason to think that Rodriguez has improved his power output over the last year because the season simply didn’t take place last year. Perhaps he’s taking advantage of some of the air in Arizona where the ball just flies a little bit better, but maybe there’s some improvement for the 26-year-old and we’ve just been able to get little taste given the circumstances of the world we’ve lived in over the last 12 months.
Ryan Hendrix brings the heat on Monday
Rodriguez wasn’t the only Reds prospect that did something today that may have turned a head or two. Ryan Hendrix allowed a home run in his outing against Oakland today, but he also picked up two strikeouts. Oh, and he was throwing 96-98 MPH during the game according to Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ryan Hendrix gave up a long HR to Buddy Reed, but he's throwing hard at the start of camp. Sitting 96-98 mph with his fastball; struck out 2. #Reds
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) March 1, 2021
For Ryan Hendrix, that velocity isn’t unheard of, though he’s typically been a little lower than that. What makes this stick out a bit more is that it’s happening on March 1st. Pitchers typically pick up some velocity between now and their peak velocity during a season, which tends to happen around mid-June. The fastball, though, isn’t the best pitch for the right-handed reliever. That would be his hammer of a breaking ball. Control has been inconsistent in his career, but from a pure stuff perspective, he’s got back-end of the bullpen material. His control will need to improve just a little bit in order to get there, but the stuff is absolutely real.