BLUF: Boom or bust type with impressive tools but glaring hitting issues that hold him back.
The Player: Yorman Rodriguez (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – Rodriguez was a big ticket signing by the Reds in 2008 and made his professional debut as a 16-year old in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009. He hit .274/.347/.321 before being promoted to the Pioneer League where he struggled with a .219/.259/.344 line as the youngest player in the league. He returned to Billings in 2010 and improved in a big way, posting a massive .339/.361/.456 line in 43 games. With Low-A Dayton in 2011 he hit .254/.274/.371 as an 18-year old. The Reds promoted him to the California League to start the 2012 season but he struggled, hitting just .156 in 23 games before being demoted to the Midwest League where he has hit .271/.307/.430 through 65 contests.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Midwest League 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 190): Lean, athletic body. Lots to dream on with frame and athleticism. Has potential to add mass and fill out his frame, giving him a plus-plus body if you want to believe the projection potential.
Hit: Absolute hacker. Complete lack of pitch recognition. Shows some ability to adjust the barrel of the bat mid-swing, allowing him to make contact. Doesn’t always square it up in game situations. Very pull-heavy and will swing through pitches on the outer third of the plate. Has average hitting potential but is a long shot to reach it. More likely a below-average hitter with approach ultimately holding him back. Grade – 20/40
Power: If talking about true “raw” power, he has plenty. Can drive the ball in batting practice, with power to all fields. Lacks oppo power in game situations because of unrefined hitting ability and approach issues. Shows some pull power in game situations. If you buy the dream of the body and believe the hit will come, he could have above-average to plus power. With questions about hitting ability in particular, power may never full manifest and will probably be more doubles and average home run power. Grade (raw power) – 30/50
Arm: Outstanding. Good mechanics and a quick release, combined with tremendous velocity and above-average accuracy. It all plays. True right field cannon that is an in-game weapon. Grade – 70/70
Fielding: Has athleticism to defend in right field. Routes and jumps are rough and need refinement. Gets a bit lackadaisical in the outfield at times, though he has shown more effort this year. Has plus defensive potential with improved instincts and feel for the position. Still below-average now but slowly improving. Grade – 40/60
Speed: Can show above-average home-to-first times when he steps on it and tries to get down the line. Speed shows up in the outfield but typically when making up for a bad jump or correcting a poor route. Likely to slow a half tick as he reaches physical maturity. Grade – 50/50
Summation: It’s all about the dream. Can easily convince yourself that he’ll flame out or manifest into the star his tools suggest. Unlikely to hit for average because of poor approach and crude pitch recognition skills. Power has a chance to play, but not at peak levels suggested by bat speed and natural strength. Potential .250 hitter with 15-20 home runs and 30 doubles. RF defense has plus potential with work. Assault rifle for an arm that he uses well and likes to show off. Some minor concerns over effort and makeup both on and away from the field, but improvements have been noted. Boom or bust prospect. Projects as a solid corner outfielder that has warts but overcomes them with his strengths.
Relative Risk: High. Extremely high in reality. Huge gap remains between present tools and future potential.
Future: Should head to the California League in 2013 and could be a statistical breakout candidate thanks to the offensive environment there. Will play a large part of next year at just 20-years old and could head to Double-A in 2014. May need several seasons at the upper levels to adjust to better secondary offerings and pitchers overall. Unlikely to be on the big league radar before 2016 given crudeness of game and need for ample developmental time.