Rodriguez made a name for himself as a Florida high school pitcher with helium as the 2016 Draft approached and the Angels were thrilled to sign him for an above-slot $850,000 and tried to contain their excitement for his upside while watching him develop in rookie ball that summer and in 2017. There’s been a hard pause on that development, however, as he’s only been able to throw 9 1/3 innings in the last two years because of a stress reaction and fracture in his back.
The Angels are once again optimistic because after trying conservative treatment in 2018, Rodriguez had surgery to hopefully fix the injury for good. All reports have been that the right-hander has been feeling better than he has in years and that should allow him to really show off what many think is still the best stuff in the system. It’s a true four-pitch mix with a four-seamer that can touch the upper-90s and a two-seamer that can get weak contact on the ground. His hard slider has the chance to be plus, as does his changeup.
Not only does Rodriguez have outstanding stuff when healthy, he’s shown the ability to command all of his offerings. Skepticism is understandable given all of the development time missed, but he’s still plenty young enough and has the combination of stuff and feel for pitching that give him the chance to be a high-impact Major League arm.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
The Angels were excited about Rodriguez's upside and feel for pitching when they went above slot to sign him in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft out of the Miami-area high school ranks. While he pitched well in his debut that summer and did reach full-season ball in '17, it's still mostly about potential for Rodriguez, who missed all of the '18 season with a stress reaction his back. Any hopes for progress in 2019 were dashed when he needed surgery to repair a stress fracture in his back.
While all signs had pointed to a successful rehab and Rodriguez gave a lot of focus to conditioning, the recurrence of his back issues is concerning. The hope is that he can get back to refining the four-pitch mix that excited everyone in the organization. He throws both a live four-seam and sinking two-seam fastball, touching the upper-90s with the former at times, and backs it up with a hard slider that flashes plus. His changeup might be as good, if not better and he flips in an average curveball as well. With a relatively clean delivery, he should be a good strike-thrower.
Rodriguez has been pinpointed as a breakout candidate ever since he was drafted. If he can get healthy and get a full season's work in, he can finally start living up to those expectations.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Rodriguez opened many eyes before the 2016 Draft with a strong performance in the Florida state high school All-Star game, helping convince the Angels to not only take the Miami-area right-hander in the fourth round, but to give him a well-above pick value bonus of $850,000 to sign. While some of Rodriguez's numbers have been pedestrian, the Angels have a hard time containing their excitement about his stuff, feel for pitching and makeup. However, the club will have to wait to see him perform in 2018 as a stress reaction in his back this spring landed him on Burlington's disabled list to start the year.
Rodriguez has the chance to have a usable four-pitch mix at his disposal when all is said and done. His fastball averaged around 95 mph in 2017 and touched the upper-90s at times with good movement. The right-hander will throw an electric four-seamer and a distinct two-seam fastball that has very heavy sink. His slider might be his best secondary offering right now, a hard breaking ball that flashes plus, but he'll also show an above-average, if not better, changeup and he can mix in a more traditional curveball as well. He throws a ton of strikes and has made very good strides in refining his delivery since signing.
Rodriguez is a solid athlete who has done a very good job taking care of his body to help him maximize the considerable tools he has. He's a strong breakout candidate, one who could start moving up pitching prospect lists soon.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
Player development people know better than to get too fired up about a high school draftee after just 11 1/3 innings of professional work, so the Angels are trying hard to temper their enthusiasm for Rodriguez, their fourth-round selection from the Miami high school ranks last June. But his stuff, makeup and feel for pitching have many excited to see how his career unfolds.
While Rodriguez's debut was brief, it was nonetheless impressive, as he missed a lot of bats and generated weak contact on the ground. He does it with a legitimate four-pitch mix. His fastball during his debut generally sat in the 91-94 range, thrown with good sink and there could be more in the tank as he matures. He has two distinct breaking pitches. His slider is less polished than the curve, but they don't run into each other and both eventually could be at least average. He has plus feel for his changeup and, at least in the early going, he threw all of them for quality strikes thanks to his ability to repeat his delivery well.
With his aptitude and maturity, the temptation will be to rush Rodriguez, but the Angels will want to manage his innings and give him time to focus on getting physically stronger. It would surprise no one internally if he's the best pitching prospect in the system before too long.