Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound in the third inning of yesterday’s Red Sox-Orioles game in Sarasota, receiving an opportunity to make an impression on his former team. And while the trade that brought him to Boston, with reliever Andrew Miller going the other way, was justified at the time for the Orioles, it now looks to be a potential blemish on the otherwise stellar tenure of Baltimore GM Dan Duquette. Miller moved on in the offseason, signing a 4 year/$40M contract with the Yankees, but Rodriguez remains in Boston, where it appears he’ll be a key part of the rotation for years to come.
In yesterday’s game, in which Rodriguez struck out three Orioles across three perfect innings, Rodriguez showed Red Sox fans why the team had acquired him. Going one full turn through Baltimore’s lineup, Rodriguez faced a number of Orioles regulars, including J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Steve Pearce, Matt Wieters, and Manny Machado and he steamrolled through every single one, not even allowing a baserunner to a lineup that was one of the best in baseball a year ago.
That outing is just further evidence that Rodriguez has arguably the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Red Sox organization. According to SoxProspects, his smooth delivery and solid three-pitch mix give him a chance to profile as a number three starter; however, his performance since entering the Red Sox organization would seem to suggest that Rodriguez could be even more.
Rodriguez suffered a knee injury in the early stages of the 2014 season and struggled in his first taste of Double-A, posting a 4.79 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in Bowie. However, Rodriguez turned it all around after the midseason trade and lowered his ERA to a microscopic 0.96 to go with 9.4 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 6 starts with the Portland Sea Dogs. That ability to simply dominate the opposition over the span of a month opened the eyes of many a scout.
Entering the 2015 season, Rodriguez ranks as the 59th, 65th, and 89th best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com respectively. And while Rodriguez ranks behind fellow left-hander Henry Owens in all three publications, few would debate that he has the higher ceiling.
Rodriguez will likely stick in big league camp for a few more weeks and we should get a chance to see a few more appearances against major league squads. Once the season starts, he’ll head to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he’ll get a chance to continue his dominance since joining the organization. And who knows, perhaps he’ll make such an impact that he’ll earn a promotion for the stretch run to make some big starts for the Red Sox. Maybe against the Orioles?