Alert - Ricardo Rodriguez
DOB: 5/21/79, Age: 22, Height: 6’3’’, Weight:
195, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: Dodgers - Signed out of the Dominican
Republic on 9/2/96. 2000 Stats: (Great Falls - Rookie) 10-3, 1.88 ERA, 96
IP, 66 H, 23 BB, 129 K. 2001 Stats: (High-A - Vero Beach) 14-6, 3.21 ERA,
154 IP, 133 H, 13 HR, 60 BB, 154 K.
Ricardo Rodriguez is a young
pitcher out of the Dominican who burst onto the radar screen in 2000.
Rodriguez spent his first three years in the U.S. pitching in the
Dominican Summer League, and finally was allowed to move up to Rookie Ball
in 2000 as a 21-year old. He responded by dominating the Pioneer League:
being named Pitcher of the Week five times while winning the league’s
triple crown (wins, ERA, and strikeouts). The skeptics were out in full
force (including me), stating that a 21-year old that throws 95 with a
good slider ought to be able to dominate a short-season league. Well, Mr.
Rodriguez came out with something to prove after skipping a level to the
FSL in 2001, and in this writer’s opinion, he proved it. Ricardo did not
win the FSL triple crown in 2001, as he finished fifth in ERA, but he did
win the other two categories while displaying a crucial new ingredient: an
effective changeup. Rodriguez now has three above-average pitches: a 93-95
mph fastball, a sharp slider, and a change, that he is capable of throwing
for strikes on any count. His control isn’t fantastic, but it is certainly
passable given the quality of his pitches. He hasn’t had any arm problems,
and is now almost at a normal age (23 moving into AA) for a pitching
prospect. What’s not to like?
pilfering of Luke Prokopec, the continued injuries to Hong-Chih Kuo, and
the disappointing performance of Ben Diggins, Ricardo Rodriguez has flown
to the top of the pedestal for Dodger minor-league pitching. LA is set for
now with a rotation of Brown, Nomo, Gagne, Daal, and Ashby, but Rodriguez
is not very far off. He will start at AA at least in 2002, and will
probably get a shot at a rotation spot in 2003. The Dodgers, like many
teams with PCL AAA affiliates, often skip their pitching prospects right
over AAA. Pitching against major leaguers in Dodger Stadium may very well
be equivalent to pitching against AAA batters in the PCL. I think
Rodriguez could end up a little like Ryan Dempster. He has a similar
repertoire, could be successful with slightly less than average control,
and didn’t come highly touted from the beginning. He should be the Dodgers
#2 or #3 starter by 2005.