The 2012 season was an up and down season for Yorman Rodriguez as he split his time between Bakersfield and Dayton.
After a solid season in Dayton during the 2011 season the Reds sent the 19-year-old Rodriguez to the California League to play with the Bakersfield Blaze. To say that April went poorly for the Venezuelan teenager would be an understatement. He hit .187/.205/.240 with 2 walks and 34 strikeouts in just 78 plate appearances.
For as bad as April was, May was worse. Rodriguez went 0-15 with a walk and seven strikeouts over the first week of the month before the Reds decided to shut him down and send him to Arizona to work on his swing mechanics. It was probably also a good thing for his mental state to just get away from what was just an absolutely terrible start to the season.
The Reds held Rodriguez back in Arizona for 7 weeks before sending him to Dayton on June 22nd. Things again started out slowly as the outfielder hit just .194/.237/.361 in 38 plate appearances to end the month with 2 walks and 10 strikeouts.
Things turned around some in July though as Rodriguez stepped to the plate 111 times and racked up 33 hits, including 12 extra-base hits as he hit .316/.342/.490. He still struggled with plate discipline as he walked just 5 times and struck out 22 times, but the strikeout rate was down considerably from previous months and he was finding the grass with the baseball for the first time on the season.
August and September were a step backwards for Rodriguez. He stepped up to the plate 127 times and hit just .254/.276/.398 with 5 walks and 29 strikeouts. The power was down some, but it was again the struggles with plate discipline that were concerning and held down his production.
Yorman Rodriguez has an unrivaled package of tools in the Reds system, but he has yet to be able to put them to use on a consistent basis. He represents the ultimate high risk/high reward type of player. At the plate, the one thing keeping him back is his plate discipline. His willingness to expand the strikezone to try and hit the ball has kept a plus hit tool and above-average power tool from really being used to their true effectiveness. While Rodriguez is still among the youngest players in the leagues he is playing in, guys are catching up to him and while his tools remain better than most, his skills aren’t developing as quickly as once hoped. In order for him to develop to his full potential, I believe that he is going to have to make a rather large improvement in his plate discipline. While it certainly isn’t impossible for him to make the improvements, he hasn’t really done so to this point in his career which suggests he isn’t likely to make rather large improvements.