When the Cincinnati Reds signed Alfredo Rodriguez last summer, and even when they were rumored to have him all but signed on the dotted line in February of 2016, I was quite vocal about the price that they were paying for the Cuban export. It was easy to understand the interest in wanting to bring him into the organization. The price, however, seemed significantly higher than it should have been.

While in Cuba Alfredo Rodriguez was known for his glove. He was rangy at shortstop with good hands and a strong arm. No one questioned his ability to play in the field. At the plate it was a different story. In the one year that he played in the Cuban National Series (their highest level of professional leagues), he hit .265/.301/.284 on the season. Low walks and no power is not a good way to be productive as a hitter. After he signed in July the Reds sent him to the Dominican Summer League. Things didn’t go well for the 22-year-old. He hit .234/.333/.299 in 22 games. To be fair, he was hit by a pitch in the middle of that stretch and missed two weeks. It also came after nearly two years of not playing in a competitive game. Still, given that he was four years older than the average pitcher in the league, the numbers put up were disappointing.

Last week I was able to see Alfredo Rodriguez play in person for the first time. There hasn’t even been much video available online, and almost all of the video that was available was from his time in Cuba. Given that his previous play took place in the Dominican Republic or instructional league, there were very few people out there watching him that weren’t employees of the Reds.  There were some good things that came out after his signing, though. He had reportedly bulked up some from his time in Cuba and those reports proved to be quite true. He’s no longer the thin player that he was while in Cuba.

Let’s start off with the defense. There’s only one play in the video above, and it’s far from a tough play. With that said I was able to see him make several outstanding plays. His hands, his footwork, the arm – they all stick out. While he never had to let a throw go on any play, you could see that he wasn’t trying and the ball still carried well. Everything was smooth. That’s not surprising at all given all that we knew.

Offensively things have been messy in the past as we discussed above. He has struggled to perform in the past. His swing seemed to be a bit mechanical in batting practice the first day that I saw him. In the games it the swing was less mechanical, but mostly he seemed to be trying to hit the ball up the middle and the other way. Over the course of a few days I saw him pull two baseballs. One went for the double in the video above. Rodriguez has some bat speed. He’s gotten stronger from his days in Cuba. In a very small sample, he seemed to have a good idea of the strikezone.

What does the future hold for Alfredo Rodriguez?

The Cincinnati Reds overpaid for Alfredo Rodriguez in my mind. But there are plenty of things to like with him, even offensively. For as much as I’ve written about his past issues at the plate, he *looked* much better than I expected. There’s still plenty of work to do, and so much to prove, but I believe there’s enough there for him to hit in the future enough to be a starting caliber shortstop. That’s not to say that he will – there’s plenty of work to be done, but there’s a chance that he could hit for a solid average. There’s a chance that he could show some gap power with some home runs mixed in there (10 wouldn’t be out of the question). The critics of the bat were warranted. But so were the people from the Reds who said there’s a chance he could hit.

14 Responses

    • Greenfield Red

      I think so many of us (fans) just think of the AR signing as a waste of money. I say we give him a couple of years to show improvement with the bat. The front office can’t be that inept can they?

  1. Wes

    Sorry for off topic question but looking for a lil inside info- is ilglasias going to be ready to start season? If not, who closes? MLB has storen and cingrani as 2 and 3 but I can’t imagine that w spring and last season for either.

    Anybody got any ideas?

    • Champ Summers

      First of all good Dumb and Dumber reference. Second i think they’ve said it all offseason that the roles in the pen are fluid. Based on the beat writers they all say Iglesias will be available for opening day. Not sure he’ll be thrown right into that situation but amybe he will. I hope we need to worry about protecting a lead in the 9th quite often. I think you saw the way the pen is going to be managed late in 2016 with guys working multiple innings and with all the guys stretched out this spring that’s going to continue. Even Astin went 2.1 innings last time out.

      It’s interesting when you look back at how the bullpen was managed in the nasty boy days. Guys went multiples and it was a different guy at the back end a lot and they seemed to go more than 1. hopefully our middle guys can be effective enough to go 2 or even 3 when we need it.

    • Stock

      Signing Storen was just throwing money into garbage.

      The Reds really don’t have any good options. Lorenzen is the best choice and his ERA this spring is 5.56. Maybe they have given up on Stephenson as a SP and want to make him a closer. The Reds bullpen is a mess. The only bigger messes in baseball are the Reds SP and the Padres SP.

      • Wes

        Agree on storen. Always liked him and his upside. He was suppose to be an elite closer but he’s completely washed up. Thought it was a terrible signing !

        We should have signed holland

  2. Brennan

    If all goes right could he compare to Didi Gregorius? Who would be a player to compare what Alfredo’s ceiling could be?

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t like doing comps, but I think Didi Gregorius has more pop in his bat (and definitely going to wind up with more home runs thanks to being left handed with that short RCF fence in Yankee Stadium).

    • jbonireland

      Haven’t seen him but if he made like Gregarious I would be satisfied. The hope I ave that someday he could rise to the level of Davey Concepcion. As I remember many of the same things were said about him at 22.

      • Doug Gray

        It was a very different game when DC was coming around. The threshhold for offense at shortstop was significantly lower.

      • Doug Gray

        In 1970 the average shortstop OPS was .638. Last year it was .726. Nearly 100 points higher.

  3. MikeD

    The problem is the Reds play in the National League. Great glove and not so good bat leaves them with 7 hitter. I still would like to know who wanted to pay him far more than anyone else would have and hopefully they aren’t the best negotiator the Reds have!

  4. RFM

    Any better idea where Alfredo Rodriguez is headed? Dayton?

    • Doug Gray

      Nothing official, but everything points to Daytona.