Well, this was fun. I had the chance to see Julio Rodriguez pitch on Saturday night in Reading against the New Britain Rock Cats. Yes, it’s the Eastern League, and yes, some of these guys probably will never make it to the Major Leagues, but let’s go ahead and commend both teams on the fact that they are currently one and two atop the E.L.’s Eastern Division.
OK, and now for the reason I was there: Julio Rodriguez. Obviously we knew going into this season who the big three would be in Reading: Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, and Rodriguez. May has obviously been fantastic so far and Pettibone has been pretty solid as well, but Rodriguez is beginning to make his name known. Saturday night at FirstEnergy Stadium certainly didn’t hurt.
I was able to get some pretty crude video below, and I will be working on my video skills when I get up to Reading or Lehigh Valley this season. They aren’t pretty right now, and I know that. Along with Rodriguez, you’ll see a little bit of an at-bat that Sebastian Valle had, and some Darin Ruf action as well. Exciting, I know. You may even see a Matt Rizzotti appearance in the videos!
Anyway, Rodriguez was fantastic. He went seven innings, allowed just four hits, one run (it was unearned thanks to a blunder in RF by Leandro Castro), and had no walks and seven strikeouts. Anybody who has been to Reading knows by now that the radar gun can be a little touchy at times, and unfortunately this game was no different. For a fan just trying to hang out and watch the game and get some readings, it can be incredibly frustrating. Meanwhile, I will continue to be the random guy sitting around seeing 41 MPH pop up on the center field display and shaking my head.
Rodriguez was in control though. He threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes. His fastball was sitting around 89-90 for most of the night, and it looked like he touched 91 or 92 at times, but again, the radar gun at Reading is man’s enemy. I will also say that the curveball Rodriguez throws is flat out one of the nastiest pitches I have ever seen in a minor league ballpark. I have questions about this stuff translating to the Major Leagues, because he doesn’t have that flashy velocity and does seem to leave some pitches in the zone. In the Eastern League, he’ll get away with that. It’s hard to hide those mistakes in the Major Leagues. It should not surprise anyone that Aaron Hicks gave Rodriguez the toughest time out of any hitter (in my estimation), and maybe that has something to do with the fact that Hicks is a pretty darn good baseball player.
That said, Rodriguez’s curveball is nasty. Sometimes he throws it around 72-74, and sometimes he’ll just loop one around 66 or 67. The one around 74 has some nice break to it, and the one around 67 honestly kind of looks like a modified Vicente Padilla eephus. My apologies to Julio Rodriguez for even bringing up Vicente Padilla’s name in this conversation.
I was pretty impressed with Rodriguez overall. He seemed to be pretty calm for most of the night, although you could tell he was laboring a little bit by the time the 7th rolled around. That’s fine. He had thrown 96 pitches, and I don’t think Dusty Wathan or Bob Milacki were expecting much more out of the right-hander. He impressed me enough, that’s for sure. The two-base error by Castro in right field cost Rodriguez a run, but he bounced back.
If Rodriguez does this for the rest of his life, he could turn into a great ROOGY in the Majors. If he does this for the rest of his life and doesn’t add any velocity to his fastball, I have a hard time seeing him as an MLB starter. But, there is time here, folks. Rodriguez doesn’t turn 22 until August, and the Phillies will be patient with him.
In his profile, James had this for Rodriguez:
I would say the fastball is a 55, and the secondary pitches are now a 55, with a chance to fill out to a 65. That curveball is something else. Everything else looks pretty accurate.
He is now 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA for the season. The 20 walks in 39 innings have obviously been a bit of a concern, but no walks for Rodriguez on this night and seven strikeouts should leave a lot of people happy with his performance.
Lastly, I want to thank Gregg for allowing me to write this piece. I will be contributing to this site here and there, and when I get to Reading or LHV I will certainly be taking video. I will try to get up there and see May and Pettibone at some point and take some video for you all. I also want to thank James for all of his great work on this site over the years, and I know he will be around contributing in some way, shape, or form. Just like him, I’m a fan. I’m not a scout and I’m not an expert, although baseball has been a passion of mine since I was about six. I’m just a recent college grad with too much time on his hands and a lot of games to scout. I hope to convey my passion to the readers in my time here, and I hope to work with James and others to work on my scouting lingo as well.
For now, thanks for checking in. If you have any questions about Rodriguez or anyone else from this game, I’ll try to answer them in the comments. Video below.