Facts & Info: The Indians signed Rodriguez as a free agent in October of 2010 out of the Dominican Republic. He originally signed with the Chicago Cubs back in 2008 when he was 16 years old, but since he was attending high school in the United States in Boston at the time he had to be released from his contract. After he was released by the Cubs he had to wait a year in order to be eligible to sign with another team.
The Offense: Rodriguez has one of the best swings in the system. He makes consistent, hard contact when he stays in the zone. He is not very big, but combines a nice-looking swing with some surprising natural strength and above-average bat speed to generate some good power to all fields. He has a good frame, so as he continues to fill out and add strength more power may come. Each season he gains more confidence at the plate and shows an improved ability to use the whole field.
The Defense: Rodriguez is a gifted defender with the tools to be an above-average defender and bona fide major league shortstop. He is still coming into his own defensively, but he has the athleticism to handle the demands of the position. He displays exceptionally quick hands and feet with excellent instincts and plus range to really cover a lot of ground, allowing him to make a lot of plays. He combines a lightning fast release with a cannon for an arm that has tons of strength and power to gun down a lot of runners at first base.
The Intangibles: Rodriguez is one of the most raw and physically gifted players in the Indians entire system with athleticism and tools pouring out of his body, and has only scratched the surface of what he can be as a player. He is an above-average runner with good speed and quickness and a very confident person who has a lot of positive energy and an infectious smile.
The Focus: Rodriguez is an aggressive hitter who goes up to the plate looking to get a hit, so he does not walk much and is susceptible to strikeouts. He is slowly learning how to be more patient and wait for a pitch he likes and to lay off some borderline pitches early in the count. The tools are all there for Rodriguez to be a plus defender – it is just refining them and molding them so he is a more consistent defender. He plays defense with a little bit of flair that the Indians would like to see a little bit less of from him. He needs to work on his consistency with his fielding, slowing the game down, and most importantly the accuracy of his throws.
The Future: Rodriguez has been one of the bright spots that has come out of Latin America the last few years as he has become one of the most athletic and exciting players in the Indians’ system. He is starting to mature and fill out physically as has really made some strides this season with putting the bat to the ball and with his plate discipline. The Indians believe he is the whole package defensively with his arm strength, speed, range, and instincts, and the club is excited about his chances to potentially be a four- or five-tool player down the road as a run-producing bat in the middle of the diamond. He is a very good trade asset for the Indians or potentially a player that could be in the shortstop mix in Cleveland as early as the start of next year.