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Tampa Bay Rays Like 26th Rounder Noel Rodriguez’s Improvement

By Robbie Knopf
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Round 26: when I finally encountered a Tampa Bay Rays draft pick for whom I could not find any semblance of a scouting report. Don’t worry, though–I’ll still find a way to spend a minute of your time discussing Noel Rodriguez, a right-hander coming off his sophomore season at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona.

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Rodriguez pitched to a 1.19 ERA in 37.2 innings pitched his freshman year at Paradise Valley, but with just a 22-22 strikeout to walk ratio. Out of his 15 appearances, 12 were starts, but it’s not as though he was lasting deep into games. He tossed five innings in his first start and another five in a relief appearance, but he never again tossed more than 4.1 frames in an outing. He had six different starts where he lasted 1.1 innings or less, and he only allowed runs in just three of them. I am exceedingly confused by that.

In his sophomore season in 2015, however, Noel Rodriguez turned into a true starting pitcher and a very good one. He finished 7-2 with a 3.64 ERA, striking out 82 while walking just 25 in 76.2 innings. According to Paradise Valley’s stats, he had the only game started for the team the entire season–that obviously makes no sense, but the gamelogs tells us that 12 of his 14 appearances were starts.

Out of those 14 games, his strikeout to walk ratio was better than 2-to-1 eleven times. He had the occasional bad outing, but he struck out six batters or more eight times, and even tossed a nine-inning complete-game shutout, striking out 11 to work around 5 hits and 3 walks. Whatever made Rodriguez break through so significantly–and honestly we don’t really know–is what made him appeal to the Tampa Bay Rays in this draft slot.

One thing we can say is that Rodriguez is not the same guy physically that he was coming out of high school. He is listed by Perfect Game at 6’2″, 175, but MLB.com has him at 6’3″, 190. It’s always nice when you grow one more inch at 18 or 19 years of age, but those extra 15 pounds represent work that he put in to fill out and increase (or at least maintain) his velocity. That is always a good sign, and even after his work, he remains projectable. The Rays can dream of him adding even 2 to 3 more MPH on his fastball.

Though Rodriguez is committed to Colorado Mesa University, he never signed an official letter of intent and there is a good chance that the Rays can get him signed. We know very little about him at this point, but given the strides he made on the mound and in the weight room in his two years at Paradise Valley Community College, it may not be long before we find out a lot more.

Click this link to read our other 2015 Tampa Bay Rays MLB Draft profiles.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Hedge Draft Risk With Devin Davis (Rd 25)

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