The Astros have an agreement to sign 20-year-old Cuban righthander Elian Rodriguez for $2 million, pending a physical. Rodriguez is subject to the international bonus pools, so with the 100 percent overage tax, the total cost to the Astros will be $4 million.
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Rodriguez has a strong, athletic frame with wide shoulders and long limbs. While I haven’t seen Rodriguez pitch myself, reports from those who have are that his stuff has climbed considerably since he was in Cuba. Rodriguez was throwing in the upper-80s when he left Cuba, but more recently in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez has topped out at 97 mph, sitting in the low-to-mid 90s in short stints at workouts. Rodriguez throws two breaking balls, including a hard slider that’s his best secondary pitch at 84-88 mph and can miss bats, along with a solid upper-70s curveball and a mid-80s changeup that he hasn’t used much yet. While his command has been scattered at times, he did shown some signs of improvement with his strike-throwing at recent workouts.
Rodriguez pitched only briefly in Serie Nacional and wasn’t a standout in the Cuban junior leagues either. Pitching for Camaguey in Cuba’s 18U national league in 2015, Rodriguez in seven games (three starts) threw 7.1 innings and allowed 19 runs (12 earned) with seven strikeouts and 16 walks. The previous year in that league, he made one start in nine appearances and had a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings with a 14-6 K-BB mark.
The signing will count against the Astros’ bonus pool for the current 2016-17 signing period, which ends on June 15.