When the Cincinnati Reds acquired Hector Rodriguez from the New York Mets at the trade deadline in 2022 the scouting report indicated that he didn’t have much power and that he made tons of contact while in the batters box. That came with plenty of speed and some needed improvement on defense as he hadn’t had a ton of experience yet in the outfield. After an offseason of rehab following a bad leg injury that cut his 2022 season short early, Rodriguez came out in 2023 and put up some big numbers in A-ball, posting an .837 OPS – mostly in the very pitcher friendly Florida State League – with 25 doubles, 10 triples, and 16 home runs.
After the season was over he was selected in the Dominican Winter League draft in the 2nd round by Escogido. After a week of play Escogido has to be happy about that selection as Rodriguez has started out the season well. The 19-year-old has played in all five of their games and has hit in four of them. He’s also picked up an extra-base hit in all of the games in which he’s had a hit, going 6-21 with two doubles and two triples. Rodriguez has walked once and struck out twice, hitting .286/.318/.571 so far.
Let’s talk about those triples, though, because there’s a story here. The second triple that he hit this season went over the wall. On the fly. Initially it was ruled a 2-run home run. There was only one problem…. Rodriguez didn’t step on home plate. He stopped over the plate and eventually the play was ruled a triple and he did not score a run.
One fun thing about the Dominican Winter League this year is that they have Hawkeye running this year, so we are getting all of the statcast-like data from these games. One of his doubles and one of his triples have topped 100 MPH in the exit velocity category, coming in at 100.1 MPH and 102.9MPH off of the bat. His other double was at 92.0 and the other triple at 84.6. One of his doubles came off of 7-year big leaguer Al Alburquerque (he spent 2023 pitching in 50 games for the Long Island Ducks).
Right now there simply aren’t that many Reds prospects playing in the Dominican, Mexican, or Venezuelan Winter Leagues. It’s a bit unusual to have so few of them on the field right now. Francisco Urbaez is 0-10 so far while playing for Escogido along with Rodriguez. Jose Barrero is 1-11 while playing for Estrellas in the Dominican. Chuckie Robinson is 3-14 with all three hits being doubles for the Gigantes in the Dominican. It’s possible that I’ve simply missed someone in Venezuela or Mexico, but I don’t believe that any Reds players have actually played there yet.