- Full name Wilking Jose Rodríguez
- Born 03/02/1990 in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 180 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 06/03/2014
Organization Prospect Rankings
Rodriguez has one of the better arms in system but has been overshadowed throughout his pro career. That didn't change in 2011, when he missed the first half of the season with a shoulder injury that didn't require surgery. Rodriguez has a 90-95 fastball with natural tailing action that makes it difficult for opponents to barrel. He can add and subtract velocity from his heater, too. His 76-78 mph curveball shows the potential to be an above-average offering, as he throws it with tight spin at times. He has made strides with his changeup but does not throw it as often as he should, especially if he hopes to remain a starter. Despite his size, Rodriguez uses a drop-and-drive delivery to work the bottom of the zone. He throws strikes but gets hit if he leaves his pitches up. Rodriguez owns just a 6-20 record in the United States, but the Rays believe he's on the verge of a breakthrough if he can stay healthy in 2012. They added him to the 40-man roster in November and will send him to high Class A.
Rodriguez's 5-16 record in the United States isn't reflective of his potential. He has a live arm that delivers 89-95 mph fastballs with natural tail and cutting action on occasion. He backs it up with an average 76-78 mph curveball that he tends to rely on too often. His curve shows flashes of being a plus offering when he generates tight spin and late bite. Rodriguez's changeup has shown promise on the side and during warmups, but he has been reluctant to use it during games and must develop it in order to remain in the rotation. He's not especially tall and relies on a drop-and-drive delivery to work down in the strike zone. He throws strikes but gets hit when he leaves his pitches up. Rodriguez needs to get stronger after fading down the stretch in 2010. He pitched a career-high 106 innings but went 0-7, 4.84 in his final 11 starts. His next challenge will come in high Class A this year.
After two years of relieving in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League, Rodriguez made an impressive step forward in 2009 as he made the transition to starting at Princeton. With some of the best all-around stuff in the Appalachian League, he rated as the circuit's No. 3 prospect despite winning only once in 13 starts. Rodriguez has a quick arm that produces a fastball that parks at 92-93 mph and touches 96. He also has a plus power curveball with tight spin and late bite. With a thick lower half and the ability to drive off his strong legs, Rodriguez could be an innings-eater at higher levels. He tends to overthrow on occasion, which hurts his control, and he has a habit of relying too much on his curve. He's working on his changeup, which shows promise despite a lack of fade and depth at this point. Rodriguez's mechanics are clean. He shows excellent poise and above-average command for his age. The Rays rarely push young players, particularly pitchers, but Rodriguez could jump to low Class A with a strong showing in spring training.
Minor League Top Prospects
A product of the Rays' renewed effort in Venezuela under director of Venezuelan operations Ronnie Blanco, Rodriguez started slowly as a pro. He spent two years in the Rookie-level Venezuelan Summer League before his ideal pitcher's build--including a powerful lower half--clean mechanics and poise paved the way for his move to the Princeton rotation this year. Though he won only once in 13 starts, his 3.21 ERA ranked ninth in the league. Rodriguez has the arsenal to pitch near the front of a big league rotation. His quick arm generates fastballs that sit at 92-93 mph and routinely reach 95-96. He imparts good spin on the ball too, allowing him to work down in the zone with a plus 78-82 mph curveball that features late bite and tilt. His power changeup is a bit firm but shows promise. Like most young flamethrowers, Rodriguez tends to overthrow and his command suffers as a result. At times he falls in love with his curveball, and he'll need to continue learning how and when to set it up.