BLUF: Rare player at SS position with tons of tools but a huge gap between present and future.
The Player: Ronny Rodriguez (SS, Cleveland Indians) – Signed by the Indians in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic and debuted at Low-A Lake County as a 19-year old in 2011. Hit just .246/.274/.449 in his debut season but impressed with serious tools. Promoted to High-A at age 20 and hit .264/.300/.452 in 126 games at the level, including 20 doubles and 19 home runs.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-0, 175): Thin, angular body. Has room for muscle and continues to add with time in pro strength program. Lively and athletic. Excellent physicality for the middle infield. Strong, quick twitch kid. Really like the body.
Hit: Plus-plus bat speed. Really snaps it through the zone. Tremendous hands and good strength in forearms, wrists and hands. Almost elite level hand quickness. Aggressive swing that is at times wild and uncontrolled. Given tendency to swing wildly, has surprising ability to make contact. Has almost no approach and looks to be up there hacking at anything close. Pitch recognition is non-existent. Ability to adjust and control barrel mid-swing is the only reason he makes consistent contact, given the pitches he swings at. Approach needs major improvement to avoid exploitation at higher levels. Elite hands, plus-plus bat speed and innate contact ability give some hope, but unlikely to be better than below-average hitter. Grade – 20/40
Power: Surprising strength in swing. Bat speed is evident and already discussed. Loud contact when he squares it up. Can drive the ball to all fields and really shows pop to pull side. Potential for average home run power and lots of doubles. Power won’t always play at raw levels because of horrific approach. Average raw but playable power may be below-average. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Strong arm that supports the left side of the infield. Can unleash some true plus throws when feet are set. Ability to make hard throws when on the run is present. Needs improved consistency and accuracy. Potential plus arm when things settle down. Grade – 50/60
Fielding: Has shortstop action. Good athlete. Good first-step quickness and solid range. Hands are good. Looks the part. Can play out of control at times and the game is often too fast for him. Raw tools exist to support SS long term. Could move to either 2B or 3B if he can’t make it work at SS. Believe in raw tools translating to at least average defense long term. Could take a while to develop well-rounded and smooth defensive game. Could be worth the wait. Grade – 30/50
Speed: Consistently posts above-average times from home to first. Isn’t a burner or fluid runner. Kind of a max effort guy down the line. If the body fills in, he could be a fringy runner long term. Average grades are reasonable given current physical attributes and projections. Grade – 50/50
Summation: Extremely raw, crude player. Needs a ton of work. Huge gap between present tools and ceiling. Lots of development required. Has a rare package of offensive and defensive tools at shortstop. Needs a ton of game action for things to settle down. Approach detracts from natural hitting ability and could depress batting average and on-base ability. Could hit .260 with good pop while batting in the 6/7 slots in a quality lineup. Defensive tools can play at SS. Has true SS actions with athleticism, good hands, quick feet and the ability to make all types of plays. Arm strength is a plus tool long term. Potential for a well-rounded game that is unusual for SS in current climate of the game. Has star level raw tools but is unlikely to make full use of those tools in game action. Potential above-average player at a premium position. More pressure on approach/bat if he moves to 3B/2B.
Relative Risk: High. Extremely high risk profile. Raw tools and huge gap between present and future are very dangerous.
Future: Has shown enough to likely move to Double-A in his third season as a professional. Could struggle significantly with more advanced pitchers that understand sequence and manipulation better. May need two full years at the upper levels to continue evolution from toolsy prospect to viable Major League prospect. Potential 2015 call-up that has impact potential up the middle.