Rodriguez Could Be Red Sox's Latest Indy Ball Discovery

BOSTON—The value of the Red Sox's efforts to scour independent leagues became clear in mid-June, when outfielder Daniel Nava—a Golden Baseball League alum—crushed the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer for a grand slam. But Nava represented just the first of what the Sox hope will be a steady yield of players who represent valuable low-cost additions to the organization, potential prospects who for one reason or another might have gone overlooked.

Assistant to the GM Allard Baird and assistant director of pro scouting Jared Porter began an effort to find prospects in the indy leagues in 2007. In 2010, the Sox started to reap the fruits of that undertaking, as both Nava and righthander Robert Coello reached the majors.

A bit further down in the system, the Sox have another intriguing GBL product. The team acquired the rights to Reynaldo Rodriguez—the 2009 GBL Rookie of the Year—last offseason. This year, though it took time for him to get regular playing time, the 24-year-old was impressive in his first season in the Sox system.

Rodriguez, who had been a catcher in the Yankees system earlier in the decade but saw his time in their system end due to a shoulder injury, opened in extended spring training before joining low Class A Greenville in May.

Through July, he hit .243/.357/.408. But, after the trade of first baseman Chris McGuiness to the Rangers in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal, Rodriguez started playing everyday. He thrived, hitting .347/.438/.713 with nine homers in 121 plate appearances.

"When the opportunity emerged, he went out and performed," said farm director Mike Hazen. "Once McGuiness got traded, he had an everyday opportunity for the last month and a half, and he went off."

Rodriguez spent most of the year at first base,  but he is atypical for the position. Though he finished the year with 14 homers, he is something of a gap-to-gap hitter. His lean, wiry 6-foot, 195 pound frame and athleticism are unusual for a first baseman, and could allow him to move to the outfield.

Sox Yarns

• Catcher Adalberto Ibarra, a Cuban defector whom the Sox signed to a bonus in excess of $700,000 this summer, had surgery on the labrum in his right shoulder. He'll be able to hit by spring training and progress to catching thereafter.

• Righthander Casey Kelly finished his Arizona Fall League season on Oct. 30, having logged 16 innings, striking out 11 and walking four with a 6.75 ERA.