- Full name Joshua Joel Rodriguez
- Born 12/18/1984 in Houston, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 192 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Rice
- Debut 04/05/2011
Drafted in the 2nd round (57th overall) by the Cleveland Guardians in 2006 (signed for $625,000).
View Draft ReportRodriguez came into the season as one of college baseball's best shortstop prospects, but he has been supplanted there at Rice by sophomore Brian Friday. Rodriguez had elbow problems that bothered him during fall practice and early in the spring, so he opened the season as a DH and since has moved to third base. He has played second, third and short in three years at Rice, and his arm is a plus at any position. He's a slightly below-average runner, however, so he'll have to move to second or third as a pro. He's a streak hitter with gap power, and he has a penchant for drawing walks. Rodriguez hit .326 with wood last summer for Team USA, the highest average among 2006 draft-eligibles on the club. There's talk that a couple of teams could take him in the second or third round, but he's more of a consensus fifth-rounder.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Indians made Rodriguez a fifth-round pick coming out of Rice in 2006, when current Pirates general manager Neal Huntington was still with Cleveland. Some scouts saw 2010 as his breakthrough year, as he maintained his Double-A production into Triple-A and helped Columbus win the International League title. He was old for starting the season in Double-A, but that came after missing half of 2009 with a strained right hamstring. When the Indians did not protect Rodriguez on their 40-man roster, the Pirates made him the first pick in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. Rodriguez shows good patience at the plate, and he has a chance to be a solid bat for a middle infielder. He has a tendency to hit the ball in the air but offers little more than gap power, and good fastballs occasionally overmatch him. The Pirates will try him at shortstop, but his .947 career fielding percentage there should bring skepticism. His arm is slightly above-average, and his range and glove are adequate, but consistency is lacking and he gets inconsistent reads off the bat. In general, his upside appears to be as a utility player, and that's how the Pirates plan to use him on their major league roster, including possible outfield duty. If he doesn't stick in the big leagues, he'll have to pass through waivers and be offered back to Cleveland.
Considered one of the top shortstops available in the 2006 draft, Rodriguez's stock plummeted during his junior season at Rice due to a nagging elbow injury. When he returned to the Owls, he lost his position to Brian Friday (the Pirates' 2007 third-round pick) and finished the season at third base. Area scouts in Texas were skeptical of Rodriguez's quickness and range at shortstop, but the Indians left him there during his first full season and he made 32 errors, tied for most in the Carolina League. Consistency was Rodriguez' biggest difficulty defensively, as he'd make a highlight-reel play look easy, then struggle with average ground balls. Offensively, a huge month of August--which included 10 homers in 117 at-bats as well as a game with nine RBIs on Aug. 2--boosted his overall numbers. He tied for third in the CL in homers, ranked fourth in RBIs and first in runs, and was the league's only 20-homers, 20-steals man. Rodriguez has surprising strength and gets a lot of leverage out of his compact swing. He showed above-average power, mostly to the pull side at Kinston, but organization officials praised him during the season for starting to use the whole field. He's a tick below average runner. His arm strength is also above-average and should allow him to move to third as a pro if he can't handle shortstop. He'll open 2008 as an everyday shortstop in Double-A.
Rodriguez entered 2006 as one of the best college shortstop prospects in the draft, but elbow problems limited him to DH early on. When he returned to the field, sophomore Brian Friday had claimed the shortstop job, so Rodriguez moved to third base for an Owls team that finished third at the College World Series. After he signed for $625,000 as a second- round pick, the Indians kept him at shortstop and will keep him there as long as possible. Area scouts were skeptical that his slightly below-average speed would not allow him to play anything more than second or third base. Rodriguez gets good plate coverage and has natural leverage in his compact swing. He has a penchant for drawing walks in college, though he didn't control the strike zone as well in his pro debut. Some club officials liken Rodriguez to John Valentin, with the ability to play anywhere on the infield while producing righthanded power. Rodriguez has enough arm to play shortstop, but his actions are long at times and he lacks first-step explosion going into the hole for balls. He'll likely start his first full season in high Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
In his first full season, Rodriguez surprised everyone--including the Indians--with his power explosion. With good balance and a line-drive approach, he showed the ability to both turn on inside fastballs and to hit pitches on the outer half with above-average loft power. At shortstop, Rodriguez has a plus arm but most scouts think it's only a matter of time before he moves to second base. He lacks range and first-step quickness, and he's a fringe-average runner. "He played it good for me," an NL scout said. "I wouldn't rule out him moving to third base if the bat continues to play. But if not, he's a valuable utility guy in the mold of a John McDonald."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Cleveland Guardians in 2008