Updated: Feb 14
THIS IS THE PROSPECT PREAMBLE.
Each post will feature these words, so feel free to skip accordingly. I offer the same always-standing apologies for the lackluster quality of my writing, as well as the stream of consciousness nature that I write with. I sincerely wish that I was better at writing than I am but, alas, here we are. Also, I'm very good at this as compared to most, but I am still VERY bad at it. Just think about that for a second, for context purposes.
I want to start off by reminding everyone that these posts are aided and enhanced by the works of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball America, and Prospects Live. Each embedded link will take you to their subscription pages and you should absolutely do that. Shout out to Geoff Pontes and Matt Thompson from Baseball America and Prospects Live, respectfully, because they're awesome. FanGraphs stats are OBVIOUSLY clutch and awesome, and that's why they are used in nearly every "Dirty" post. LOVE that FanGraphs.
Accordingly, @Cardinalsgifs provides his artistic touch to the pictures in each article, and I wouldn't do this at all if he wasn't a part of it. Special shoutout to @KareemSSN who is a must follow for Cardinals prospects stuff. His partner in crime is @Cardinalsreek and they have their own prospect list coming out soon!! Shoutout to Blake Newberry (@BT_Newberry)and Brian Walton (@B_Walton) for their work on their list over at The Cardinal Nation, too.
I also want to remind everyone that my list is different in that I don't include players with rookie eligibility that have made a Major League debut. So, you'll have to look elsewhere for Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, Alec Burleson, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan, Jake Walsh, Andre Pallante, and ZacK Thompson. Some of these guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway. I'm just trying to get ahead of this because I will 100% be asked about each. I did almost add 32-year-old Rule 5 draft selection Wilking Rodriguez to the list, but decided against it because he's 32-years-old, entering his age 33 season, and the coverage of him will surely be overly saturated by the time that Spring Training gets going. Also, I didn't add recently acquired Jose Fermín because I just don't care at all. I'm sure he'll make a Major League debut at some point in 2023 which will be cool but I just can't find it in me to care about it at all.
The last thing that I'd like to do is remind everyone that this is just a snap shot of THIS moment. I'm not 100% sure what every player on the list has worked on or has been doing this offseason. So, when I'm a little more conservative with a player like, say, Michael McGreevy, it's without the knowledge of what he's worked on this offseason, along with the gains that he's made in the areas that I'm concerned about. You never know when/if things are going to click for a player, and there's more reason now than ever before - with the advancements in modern baseball technologies - for a prospect to catapult themselves from out of nowhere. Vice versa, it's easier than ever for a prospect to fall off into obscurity.
Finally, I'd like to provide links to other sites that rank Cardinals' prospects. The Cardinal Nation, Prospects Live, and Baseball America all have their 2023 lists published, and MLB and FanGraphs will link to their most recent rankings from 2022:
KAREEM AND CARDINALS REEKS TOP 12
THIS HAS GONE ON TOO LONG. LET'S. GO.
RHP Dionys Rodriguez Age 22
International Free Agent in 2018
Listed at 6'0, 188
I find myself confounded by Dionys Rodriguez. I really don't know what to make out of him. I REALLY enjoy watching him pitch, and I think that he could be a long-term starter, but internally, I think that Dionys has some real high-end reliever upside in his tank. Aside from Austin Love, Tink Hence, and Gordon Graceffo, I think that Dionys has the best chance of the right-handed starters of The Dirty50 from this point on to be a high-caliber reliever.
But I am not ready to give up on him as a starter just yet.
It's a fascinating thing to chop Rodriguez's starts into different segments of the season. Dionys was good for the first couple of months, was really bad for the next couple of months, then probably "himself" for the last 5-10 starts.
There's also this fun thing that you can do with his stats where you take out the first start of the season and the last two starts of the season. When you do this you get a K per inning, 23.1% strikeout rate pitcher that holds hitters to an average against of .230, a slugging percentage against of .384, and a walk rate of 8.9%. This is a really great season for a 22-year-old pitcher at High-A. For this version of Dionys, based solely on stats, we'd say that he needs do some tinkering with his command and that he probably needs to throw more strikes, and we'd probably have him about 10-ish spots further up the list.
The issue is, a player is more than their stats and we watched a lot of Dionys.
There is a clear command and body control issue often, but with the caveat that some of the body control issues help to add to his deception. He is such a unique pitcher to watch. He's better than his measurables yet still not as good as how he measures. Mechanically, I think that it would help him quite a bit to shorten up the path of his left leg before landing. I think it throws his balance off the way that he sweeps and extends, which certainly fucks his command up. He's also very inconsistent with that motion. I also wonder if he'd be able to get to a little more of his velocity if he was more direct or deliberate with that landing leg.
Now, Dionys success moving forward as a starer is probably going to boil down to how he uses his four-seam fastball as compared to his sinker, and how his cutter continues to develop. The four-seam has more juice, but the sinker is the better pitch for him. There are times when Dionys can run both pitches up into the mid-90's and above, but the four-seam is vulnerable when it's in the low 90's, where it usually sits. You'll see in the gif below how fucking dominant and devistating it can be when he dials it up.
There is ZERO reason for Dionys to give up entirely on the fastball, and there's some utilization with the high-fastball and working the curve off of it, but I think the key to having his entire arsenal "play up" is to continue to work on the cutter that he used rarely but that has a chance to be an above average pitch. If Dionys can master the cutter, that will force lefties to stay honest against the curve and four-seam, and force righties to be more on guard against the changeup and slider. His sinker is already an effective pitch for him the few times that he used it, but the cutter seems like it could be the pitch that takes him to the next level. If it does, then that would also allow him to tighten up his arsenal by dropping a pitch that might not be as effective. I'm, like, 98% sure the gif below is of Dionys going heater/cutter/heater for the strikeout, and you can see what it does to poor Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who is a good prospect.
As I stated at the start, what I am most interested to see - eventually - is what Dionys can do when he's given a chance to relieve IF being a starter doesn't work out. When you watch him sling the ball from his arm angle, with that motion and quickness, you can start to see signs of real Major League debut with potential to contribute in there.
As I mentioned, he has some added deception in his delivery, a delivery that isn't consistent and he doesn't always control his body well. In some ways, this reminds me a little of former prospect Alvaro Seijas. The good news is, Dionys is in way more control of himself than Seijas ever was. So, really, I just wasted a small paragraph's worth of words to tell you basically nothing. Anyway, here's Diony's really beautiful curveball for a strikeout that absolutely freezes the poor lefty. I'd like to see Dionys use this pitch more, especially if he doesn't make strides with that cutter.
And with that, I feel like I've lost the thread and that I'm rambling. So that's it for me. On the surface, it was a rough year overall for Dionys Rodriguez. However, there is still plenty to get excited about and build upon for the young right-hander. The arsenal and the potential is there to at least make a Major League debut in a bullpen with the chance for much more. I really cannot wait to watch him pitch at Springfield next season.
Thanks For Reading!! Kyle Reis