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.

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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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28 Responses

  1. Matt McWax

    Please use “Hector” by the Village Callers for your walk up music, Hector. A party of a song even if it came out when Leo Cardenas was still a Red and Bench was still a rookie.

  2. MK

    His setup, running style and appearance have always reminded me of Joe Morgan.

  3. MBS

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Rodriguez can do in AA. Maybe Jorge, and that O’Donnell kid will join him in AA at some point in 24. That could be a nice trio to rival the Dunn, Hurtubise, and Hinds trio.

    • MK

      Bet he starts in High A. Would think AA is going to see Hendrick, Thompson and Cerda with Trautwein and Hunter as subs.

      • Greenfield Red

        Is Hendrick Rule 5 eligible this year? I can’t see protecting him… but I can see anyone picking him up either.

      • Greenfield Red

        Thanks Stock. I sure hope he picks it up this year.

    • Stock

      Good insight MBS. A year ago people were saying we needed some OF prospects. Of the probable 9 OF in Dayton, Chattanooga and Louisville, 6 are in my top 25 (Dunn, 7, Jorge, 11, Rodriguez, 12, Hurtubise, 16, Hinds, 19 and O’Donnell, 24). As you note it is possible that all 6 OF in AA and AAA at YE could be top 25 prospects.

      • MBS

        This should be a fun season, a lot of my favorite guys should be up, or making their way up to the upper levels. O’Donnell wasn’t on my radar at all, then the kid went off in Daytona. With his age, and short, but obvious success there, I’m guessing he’ll start in Dayton.

    • BK

      Good point, MBS. The Reds could have several players pushing for playing time by 2025. Hinds, Dunn, and Hurtubise (and perhaps Hopkins/Thompson) will start AAA in 2024 and be blocked by players like Soler and Bellinger if signed as FAs. Arroyo should start in AA in ’24–like Marte, he could debut next year. That’s why I see long-term contracts for position players as a bad investment.

      • Tom

        Good point. The lineup does need power but the two you mention on long term deals could be a mistake. Bellinger feels safer.

      • MBS

        @BK, I see your point of view, but I still disagree. None of our current outfielders are Allstars, and that’s what I want. I have no problem blocking a player with a .300BA 30HR guy. I’d like to have 9 of them, and block all the prospects.

        btw Soler is a luxury piece imo, but the guy might hit 50 HR’s in GABP, so that would be super fun. Not too bad for the DH spot.

      • BK

        @MBS, if hitting was the team’s weakness, I would be OK bringing in a top-tier FA outfielder. It’s not. While the Reds have tremendous payroll flexibility in 2024, they do not have the resources to bring in multiple high-dollar FAs without affecting future seasons. As stated before, you’ve downplayed the impact on the out years. The Reds are in a position to start competing annually. To do that over several years they are going to have to avoid the temptation to “go all-in” at the first sign of hope. That approach has failed in the past and resulted in repeated teardowns/rebuilds.

      • Tom

        BK, the last all in failure WAS a Covid issue, nothing more or less. Who knows what would have happened.

        MBS, I’d resist the temptation to say player X hit yay many home runs somewhere else, therefore in Cincinnati they will hit so many more. It’s not that simple. When Soler, for example, hits a ball it stays hit anywhere he hit’s it.

      • BK

        @Tom. COVID was certainly a driving factor. The Reds also recognized that their core (e.g., Suarez, Winker, Votto, Castellanos, Moustakas) lacked the athleticism to compete well moving forward. That said, I’m not confident they would have rebuilt as aggressively without the external financial impetus.

    • DaveCT

      O’Donnell at #6 in the draft is a better value than Boyd at #2 a year ago. Part of that is O’Donnell projects to stick in CF.

  4. MBS

    @BL, I think we’re almost the same in vision, we just have different tolerances when it comes to risk. I fleshed out a realistic 5 year scenario to see if my estimates were off base. I don’t think they were, I used some guys like Alonzo, Tucker, Woodruff, Burns etc to speculate on Arb increases. I’ll post it later tonight when I get a chance.

    • BK

      @MBS, first, I’m enjoying the debate, so thank you! Risk is an excellent way to explore an exchange of, say, Fraley (probably our weakest OF) vs. Bellinger. Over the last three years, Fraley produced 3.8 offensive bWAR; Bellinger produced 4.0 offensive bWAR. Bellinger is better defensively, but Statcast contradicts Baseball Reference’s defensive data. Over the last three years, injuries significantly impacted Bellinger’s productivity to the point that he was only slightly better than Fraley. I will point out that injuries had the same effect on Fraley in August and September when he posted a sub-.600 OPS when we know he was playing hurt. Of note, Bellinger’s numbers tanked during May and June when he played through an injury.

      In short, Bellinger’s better (at least higher ceiling) when healthy and doesn’t need a platoon buddy, but over three years, he’s been hurt enough that he has barely eclipsed Fraley’s production, with Fraley making only about 70 percent of the Red’s starts. What you are suggesting seems to be extremely risky given the difference in cost (both AAV and length) of signing Bellinger, much cheaper platoon options that, when paired with Fraley, exceed the production of Bellinger alone, and nearly ready options the Reds have at AAA.

      Lastly, is the opportunity cost of pitching the Reds won’t be able to acquire (either this year or in the out years) if they sign Bellinger worth it? Not only is pitching a much bigger need now, the league-wide injury rates have risen significantly, and mid-season pitching trades have become lopsided in the seller’s favor. Lastly, to make your two proposed acquisitions work (Bellinger and Soler), you have to sit quality players in two out of nine games. Is it realistic that Bellinger or Soler are signing where they would only start 126 games in a season if healthy, as you have suggested?

      • MBS

        @BK, it’s always fun to go back, and forth. Sometimes these type of exchanges alters my positions.

        “Is it realistic that Bellinger or Soler are signing where they would only start 126 games in a season if healthy, as you have suggested?”

        I think it’s more realistic that they play 126 than 162.

        Now maybe the guys I’ve picked aren’t the right guys, but I think we need some steadying players to add to our young mix of players. I want a few blue chip stocks to go along with my more volatile stocks.

  5. MBS

    CES 0.76, INDIA 3.7, EDLC 0.76, McLAIN 0.76
    BELLINGER 22.5, BENSON 0.76, MAILE 3.5
    MARTE 0.76, (FRIEDL 0.76), (MARTINI 0.76)
    SNELL 25, ABBOTT 0.76, GREENE 3.33
    WILLIAMSON 0.76, ASHCRAFT 0.76, DIAZ 0.76
    ANTONE 2, YOUNG 1.7, CRUZ 0.76
    MOLL 0.76, [SALARY 2024 105.03]

    CES 0.76, ARROYO 0.76, EDLC 0.76, McLAIN 0.76
    SOLER 14, STEPHENSON 3.4, (STEER 0.76)
    MARTE 0.76, DUNN 0.76, HURTUBISE 0.76
    SNELL 25, ABBOTT 0.76, GREENE 6.33
    (WILLIAMSON 0.76), ASHCRAFT 0.76
    LODOLO 3, (ANTONE 3), YOUNG 3, (CRUZ 1.7)
    MOLL 2, [SALARY 2025 113.81]

    CES 0.76, ARROYO 0.76, EDLC 0.76, McLAIN 0.76
    SOLER 14, (STEPHENSON 4.1), DUNN 0.76
    MARTE 0.76, JORGE 0.76, HURTUBISE 0.76
    SNELL 25, ABBOTT 0.76, GREENE 8.33
    ASHCRAFT 3.2, PETTY 0.76, DIAZ 7
    LODOLO 5, (KIMBREL 8), (YOUNG 5)
    MOLL 3, LOWDER 0.76, PHILLIPS 0.76
    RICHARDSON 0.76, [SALARY 2026 118.77]

    CES 7.4, ARROYO 0.76, EDLC 5, McLAIN 4.6
    (SOLER 14), HUNTER 0.76, DUNN 0.76
    MARTE 4.6, JORGE 0.76, HURTUBISE 0.76
    SNELL 25, ABBOTT 6.5, GREENE 15.33
    ASHCRAFT 6.8, PETTY 0.76, (DIAZ 9)
    (LODOLO 8), (MOLL 5), LOWDER 0.76
    PHILIPS 0.76, RICHARDSON 0.76, FLOYD 0.76
    PROSPECT 0.76, [SALARY 2027 143.61]

    CES 14.5, ARROYO 0.76, EDLC 12.6, McLAIN 8.7
    JORGE 0.76, HUNTER 0.76, DUNN 3, (BELLINGER 22.5)
    RODRIGUEZ 0.76, DUNO 0.76, MARTE 8.7
    (SNELL 25), ABBOTT 10, GREENE 16.33
    (ASHCRAFT 11.6), PETTY 0.76, LOWDER 0.76
    PHILLIPS 0.76, RICHARDSON 0.76, FLOYD 0.76
    PROSPECT 0.76, (SALARY 2028 147.33)

    Obviously it’s too hard to predict the future, but I think this is a fairly reasonable future in terms of payroll.

    • BK

      Thanks for putting this together, but this makes my point. To make the finances realistic, the Reds have to jettison players like Steer, India, Marte, and Fraley as they hit arbitration, and all of the pitchers have to avoid injury. Moreover, the Reds would be hard-pressed to either keep productive players (see the ones I easily picked out above) or bring in high-quality free agents in the future. So, hopefully, you hit a jackpot on Snell and Bellinger.

      • MBS

        I do think turning over players is part of Krall’s plan. Will there be more of a need if you sign FA’s, sure, but a healthy farm is going to do that anyway.

        I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to keep everyone that comes up. I think you identify the core players, and move players that have competitive depth coming up behind them. That’s not only good for a healthy budget, but also to keep the farm healthy.

    • BK

      Lastly, there’s not a lot of difference between our two strategies–I’m essentially after just one FA contract in the $25M range and then augmenting with some one-year signings and probably a 3-year signing for a quality reliever. However, the Reds have tended to spend to budget, and what you propose fits that strategy. We’ll see what they do!

    • Greenfield Red

      Eye opening just how amazing the opportunity is in front of the Reds having jettisoned all that payroll. You do need to figure in Votto’s 7 mil for 24.

      This brings me to a question I’ve been pondering the last couple of days: How many owners in baseball would trade entire systems with Cincinnati if given the opportunity? I’m talking about the major league team with all of it’s players and obligations all the way down through the DSL. Personally, given the young talent throughout the system all the way up and the complete lack of financial commitment as of now, that number would be high (at least 25 of the other 29 owners would trade complete systems with the Cincinnati Reds… maybe all of them). Thoughts?