Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 19, David Rodriguez
Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50.
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#19: David Alexander Rodriguez, C, 19 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 5’11” 190 lbs
- Signed: as an international free agent for $600,000 in 2012
- 2015 Affiliate: Princeton, Rk
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2019+
Rodriguez’ 2015 Splits
- Played for Carlos Guile’s academy before signed by the Rays
- Ranked 14th on the international prospects list for the 2012 July 2nd signing period
- Broke his hamate in 2013
- Won the VSL Rays MVP in 2013
- Threw out slightly more than half (50.1%) of would be base-stealers
- Struck out a career low 19.9% in 2015
- His 2015 wRC+ of 98 was somewhat disappointing, as was his wOBA of .328
- Only managed a .118 ISO on the back of 12 extra-base hits in 194 PA
- Finished the season on a tear, hitting .328/.388/.459 over his last 67 PA
- Hit safely in 21 of his last 24 games
- Ranked 18th best prospect in the Appy League by Baseball America for 2015
Best Tools & Abilities
- Hitting Ability
- Solid Catch and above-average Throw
- Above-average bat speed
- Grades: Hit 20/50, Raw Power 45/45, Speed 40/40, Field 40/50, Throws 55/55
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The most enticing aspect of what Rodriguez provides at this point is that his floor as a quality backup catcher is higher than most. He should be more-than able to exceed that floor if he puts everything together, however, and this ranking simply indicates that he has some ways to go before we can hike him up the list.
With so many great catching talents ahead of him, including Justin O’Conner, Nick Ciuffo, and Chris Betts, Rodriguez still has some hurdles to clear before he ever gets a shot at The Show. He’ll get his first exposure to a full-season in 2016, and that in itself could help bring his stock to a new level.
When we examine his overall package, we see a talent that can range from a floor of someone like Dioner Navarro to a ceiling as high as Yadier Molina. That’s extremely high praise, but he’s got the catch and throw ability to get there. If he can learn call a great game and handle pitchers well, he should be able to become of the premium defensive catchers in MLB when he gets there.
The aspects of his game holding him back at this point from being ranked higher are his performance vs RHP and his lack of power. In fairness, Rodriguez did show a lot of improvement on both fronts during the last 90 games of the season. Still, we’d like to see a full season of that performance before we rank him within the top 10-15 Rays prospects.
It’s going to be hard to find bigger fans of what Rodriguez may bring to the Rays than RCG. The Rays have spent a tremendous amount of high draft picks over the last few years, with Justin O’Conner (1st rd 2010), Nick Ciuffo (1st rd 2013), and Chris Betts (2nd rd 2015) leading the way. It’s ironic that despite those investments, Rodriguez may have the best overall package as an MLB regular when all is said and done.
What Rodriguez has over the others is that he has the same defensive abilities – or better – than what Ciuffo and O’Conner provide, but also has the hit tool that both wish they could add to their game. And while Rodriguez may never hit 25 HR in a season, he still projects to hit between 10-20 while providing strong AB presence and gap-to-gap power.
With an above-average defensive ability and outstanding hitting ability, it’s hard to see any of the other catchers listed above beating Rodriguez to the punch of becoming the franchise catcher of the Rays.
Next: Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects: Number 46, Benton Moss
Although Betts is higher in our rankings because his hit tool is greater, we’re going to hold out on the direct comparison until Rodriguez has one season of full season ball behind him and Betts can prove that his TJ surgery won’t hinder his performance. They’re within three spots of one-another, so essentially we believe either could become “the one”. Look for Rodriguez to become one of the most prominent catching prospects in MLB very soon. We wish him all of the best and expect a lot of great stuff from him in the future.