The San Diego Padres always find the proverbial diamond in the rough when looking for talent. Aderlin Rodriguez is a great story for the team in 2019, as he has shown an impressive bat in Peoria.
When the San Diego Padres signed minor league free agent Aderlin Rodriguez to a contract this past winter, I had to take a look at his minor league numbers.
In researching the 27-year-old and uncovering his minor league career, I was a bit surprised that the Orioles left the infielder off their 40-man roster. Baltimore is in the midst of a rebuild and could use a lot of value in terms of players. I was even more shocked that the Orioles did not challenge the young infielder by promoting him past the Double-A level.
The power-hitting right-handed hitter started his professional career with the Mets in 2009 as a 17-year-old. He spent six years with the organization reaching the Double-A level and hit 99 homers while playing mostly third and first base for the franchise. His bat was progressing and after a half-year stop with the Mariners, Rodriguez signed to play in Baltimore. He hit 71 homers in the Orioles’ organization in three years while amassing a .840 OPS in just under 1,500 at-bats. For some strange reason, the Orioles kept Rodriguez in Double-A and he never sniffed the Triple-A level or higher.
Certain baseball players just perform better at the upper levels of the minor leagues, and at the major league level. At these advanced levels, pitchers are generally around the plate while pitching, and that can go in the favor of a specific type of hitter. Men who let the bat fly and use all fields have success in the major leagues. Aderlin Rodriguez certainly lets the bat fly while at the plate.
In Peoria, Rodriguez is off to a torrid start in the major league camp. Andy Green preaches of competition and challenging young hitters. Aderlin Rodriguez has responded by slugging four homers in 21 at-bats, producing a 1.343 OPS. Early in camp, I asked Andy Green if he would utilize Rodriguez in the outfield or third base. Green indicated that Rodriguez would stay at first for the time being. He is capable of playing third or corner outfield, but those are positions manned by Manny Machado, Franmil Reyes, Wil Myers, and Hunter Renfroe. There just isn’t space for him there.
Rodriguez has pop and uses the whole field. He has a slight strikeout issue, but the 6-foot-3 native of the Dominican Republic has shown the ability to adjust while in the batter’s box. Plate discipline will be key for Rodriguez, as the Padres want him to swing at his pitch. If you change your approach and are willing to learn, then you will have a future in the game of baseball. He has embraced the new philosophy and the numbers do not lie.
Aderlin Rodriguez will start the season in El Paso, and expect huge numbers from him in the PCL. Ultimately, he might be a nice complement to Eric Hosmer at first base for the team. He could also be useful as a DH later in the season for the Padres. If a trade happens, he could sneak some playing time in the outfield as well. Expect Aderlin Rodriguez to gain some attention as the year unfolds. He is a name to remember as the San Diego Padres attempt to build a competitive team in 2019.