Ricardo Rodriguez's return from Tommy John surgery had gone well enough that the Rangers knew they were going to promote him to Double-A Frisco. There was only one problem–Rodriguez was pitching so well that the Rangers didn’t want to mess with success.
Much like a pitcher working on a no-hitter, Rodriguez was in a zone, one that left everyone around him working to ensure they didn't bring him out of it.
The Down East Wood Ducks' closer retired everyone he faced over 10 consecutive outings stretching over 15 innings and a full month of work. His perfect streak finally ended in the first inning of a two-inning stint against Winston-Salem on June 28 when Telvin Nash doubled. In between, he had retired 45 consecutive batters. He struck out 20 over that span.
There is no way to know the minor league record for consecutive batters retired because for much of the history of the minors, no one kept track of the stat. But Rodriguez's was only one short of the major league record of 46, set by Yusmeiro Petit. After the game, with the streak over, the Rangers told Rodriguez that he was headed to Double-A Frisco.
"It was a hell of a run," Rangers assistant GM for player development Jayce Tingler said. "That last outing was going to be his last outing in high Class A no matter what."
For much of his career, Rodriguez has been on a slow trek through the minors. His elbow injury meant this was his first year with significant time above low Class A as a 24-year-old. But he's now sped up his ascent with outstanding fastball command.
Rodriguez does a good job of hiding the ball behind his body during his delivery and he has a hard, downer curveball and a usable slider. But his biggest asset is his ability to locate his hard, riding 93-96 mph fastball to both sides of the plate.
"He slide steps. He alters his leg kick. He messes with hitters' timing. Most guys lose command when they do that. He is able to command the ball and disrupt timing," Tingler said. "And he's been ultra-aggressive in the zone with his fastball. He's been ahead of guys."
Rodriguez has allowed five runs all year, having been touched for runs in only two of his 23 appearances. Opponents are hitting .136 against him. Now he'll get to see how his stuff plays in Double-A.