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Mid-Season Dirty Thirty-Five: Prospect #31

Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.

All stats are current as of 8/4/2019.

All write-ups were published during all-star week.

Prospect #31: Catcher Julio Rodriguez

Springfield Cardinals

Signed as an International Free Agent in January of 2016

Age 22

If we were framing these articles like we did in the preseason, Rodriguez's write-up, underneath the header "STORY TIME", would read: "This is the story of what happens when two prospects, close to each other in talent, end up getting separated by effectiveness and success."

Entering the season, I had Dennis Ortega, Rodriguez's catching partner, as the 25th best prospect in the organization. I did not have Rodriguez on the final list, although I did have him on every iteration leading up to the final list. This was because Ortega got the majority of the important reps for Peoria down the stretch in 2018, he showed solid gains offensively, and he always had the pedigree of a potential major league catcher.

Both Ortega and Rodriguez started the 2019 season in Palm Beach, and it didn't take Rodriguez long to display himself as the better of the two. While Ortega struggled and dealt with some nagging injuries, Rodriguez continued to hit and hit and hit, and he did this while impressing behind the plate.

While things have really cooled off for Rodriguez at the plate over the last month or so, his work behind the plate remains impressive. This is the most work he's received this early in the season, and I'm not surprised at all that he's starting to show signs of fatigue.

Rodriguez possesses a short and powerful little stroke at the plate, and he isn't afraid to use all fields. So far this season, the right-handed swinger has hit the ball to the pull side 37.6% of the time, up the middle 23.6% of the time, and to the opposite field 38.8% of the time. His quick, but often too defensive, swing really allows for him to go with the ball. You'll notice below that Rodriguez would do well to incorporate his lower-half in a weight-transferring capacity a little more in his swing.

The best way to describe Rodriguez behind the plate is "quick". While he isn't the quickest base-runner, he possesses the type of quick reaction that you'd want out of a catcher. He's quick to get out of his crouch, and he's quick while getting the ball out of his glove. He's quick to understand a hitter's weakness, and he's quick to pounce on a breaking pitch in the dirt.

NOW, I AM AT MY WORST WHEN EVALUATING CATCHERS SO KEEP THAT IN MIND, but it really seems like he'd do well to continue to work on the pitch in the dirt, as well as framing breaking pitches on the outside corner to lefties. His arm-strength and reactions to base-robbers is above average, as well.

More than likely, Rodriguez is the Travis Tartamella-type; organizational depth with a major league debut in there, depending on how long Yadi plays 130+ games a year (hint: It's going to happen forever). What is absolutely for sure is, Rodriguez is an intriguing catcher with great skills that might just be more than organizational depth. Hopefully he can turn his recent stretch of turmoil at the plate around.

Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!

Thanks For Reading!!


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