Name: Julio Rodriguez
DOB: 8/29/90 (20 as of April 1, 2011)
Weight: 215 lbs
Drafted: 8th round, 2008 ($110,000 bonus)
Pre Draft Report: Julio Rodriguez was drafted in the eighth round of the 2008 draft out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy. Prior to the draft, Baseball America ranked him as the 7th best prospect (3rd best pitcher) on the island. Its scouting report (behind the subscriber wall) noted that his fastball sat at 83-86 early in the spring of 2008, was consistently at 90 by May, and some reports had him hitting 92. It projected him out to a plus-fastball, but early scouting reports on his curve and change were mixed. PG Crosscheckers had scant information on him, but topped his fastball out at 88 and noted a “long, loose high-80s arm, a bit raw”.
The Phillies ultimately made Rodriguez the first Puerto Rican pitcher taken in the draft. Rodriguez signed within a week of being drafted and was dispatched to the Gulf Coast League.
Career Synopsis: Rodriguez began his career in the Gulf Coast League in 2008, pitching just 10.1 innings out of the bullpen, then pitched in the Florida Instructional League after the season.
Rodriguez repeated the GCL in 2009, this time splitting time between the rotation (8 starts) and the pen (3 appearances). He put up a 10.1 K rate and a 2.5 walk rate over a combined 49.2 innings. He allowed just 36 hits over the time (although 6 of them were homers). Of note, he posted a 2.23 ERA over his 8 starts (36.1 IP) and a 5.40 ERA in his three relief appearances. He again participated in the FIL after the season.
In 2010, Rodriguez split time between Lakewood and Williamsport. With Williamsport, Rodriguez pitched 34 innings over seven appearances (five starts). His K rate dropped slightly to 9.5 and his walk rate increased more significantly to 4.0, but cut his HR rate in half. With Lakewood, he again split time between the rotation and the pen and ended up having his most successful stint to date. His K rate over 56.1 innings jumped to an astounding 14.4 while getting his walk rate back down towards his career rate of 3.5. He cut his homer rate even further, allowing just two while pitching for the BlueClaws. His season with the BlueClaws will also be remembered for his role in the bench clearing brawl during the SAL championship series. Following the season, Rodriguez was one of the two youngest players on Puerto Rico’s Pan-Am Qualifier team. He then posted excellent numbers in the Puerto Rican Winter League, posting a 2.00 ERA over 45 innings and allowing well under a hit per inning pitched (although his K rate and K/BB ratio were far below his career norms).
Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Rodriguez’ raw tools, rated on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are my estimation based on what I’ve read and those I’ve talked to. The second number is a future projection, the first number is the current assessment
Upside: Rodriguez has caused a lot of discussion about his prospect status, primarily due to inconsistent reports on his velocity. Even through the end of 2010, reports remained varied:
- Second-half breakout arm has much improved velocity and plenty of projection still in him.—Kevin Goldstein, BP
- Rodriguez featured a fastball that I clocked on the scoreboard between 90-93 MPH, sitting primarily at 91.—Scouting the Sally (NOTE: for the full Scouting the Sally report, click here)
- He doesn’t have a plus pitch, works at 87-88 mph with his fastball.—Jim Callis, BA
- Sleeper prospect, great numbers and late season scouting reports indicate velocity increase.—John Sickels
Rodriguez throws a big looping curve that has fueled his high K rate numbers against young competition. Regardless of what he throws or how hard he throws it, there’s no denying Rodriguez’ success to date. He’s struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings over his career and has not allowed many hits. His walk rate remains elevated. He’ll be pitching at 20 years old at Lakewood this year, so there’s still time for projection. Rodriguez is going to need to improve in several areas in order to progress, especially in developing off-speed stuff and refining his breaking pitch that might not play as well against better competition.
This is a perfectly shot video (nice job JE) of Rodriguez. A few things to point out. He starts with a very quick tempo, breaking his hands early and bringing his front leg quite high, but then drastically slows his delivery. He comes from a 3/4 arm slot, which allows him to spin his looping breaking ball. His fastball does not have a lot of movement, but he commands it well to both sides of the plate. The most striking thing is that the Phillies have slowed his tempo overall. Compare the 2010 video above to his draft video in 2008 below
Notice his tempo is much quicker. Because of his long arms and legs, quicker tempo makes it tougher to repeat his delivery. So while he may sacrifice some velocity, it appears that his slower tempo is allowing him to throw strikes more consistently.
A fairly simple delivery from the side, no major red flags.