Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Nov. 10, 1990 issue of Baseball America
DALLAS—When former Rangers scout Luis Rosa signed 16-year-old Ivan Rodriguez in July 1988, he proclaimed Rodriguez to have the best arm of any catcher he had signed.
That group that includes San Diego’s Benito Santiago and Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar Jr. Sounded like scout talk. Sounded like propaganda.
Rosa’s words, though, are beginning to take on the appearance of truth, and then some. Rodriguez, who turns 19 on Nov. 11, has shown he can throw on a level with the likes of Santiago, and has opened eyes with his offensive potential.
He has made such an impact in two years in the minor leagues that it is not out of the question that the Rangers’ long-term catching problem at the big league level could spell a promotion of Rodriguez from Class A. He was voted the top prospect in the Florida State League this year in a Baseball America survey of managers.
"I’ve never been a believer in jumping a player like that, but I am with him,” minor league director Marty Scott said. “With our offense, I think he could hit .220 to .230 and solidify the team defensively. He’s been an overachiever each year. He might even surprise people (offensively).”
In 1989, Rodriguez made his pro debut with Class A Gastonia, initially sent there as a backup until the Rookie season opened. He wound up an all-star, and was credited with helping develop the best pitching staff in the South Atlantic League.
Promoted to Charlotte in 1990,Rodriguez continued to improve defensively and surprised even the Rangers by hitting .287.
“He’s improved on his receiving and he’s blocking balls better, and has come out of his shell in handling a pitching staff,” Scott said. “He definitely can throw with anybody. He has that type of arm where he lets go of the ball (on a line), and you expect it to bounce five or six times before it gets to second, but it never does. He has a gun.
Since the trade of Jim Sundberg to Milwaukee in 1984, the Rangers have been in search of a No. 1 catcher. This year they used Geno Petralli, Mike Stanley, John Russell and Chad Kreuter behind the plate. They also gave Andy Allanson an abbreviated audition at Triple-A Oklahoma City.