Who was Billy Rohr? Rohr was a lanky left-hander who broke in with a bang in 1967. Rohr tossed a one hit shutout against the Yankees and went 8.2 innings of no-hit ball. Rohr followed that up with another outstanding performance and then the baseball roof caved in on the 21-year-old. Rohr hung around for two partial seasons and had an MLB line of 3-3 with an ERA of 5.64. Rohr pitched in the minors until 1972 and that was it.
I could have used Ken Brett or Ted Bowsfield to make a point of young left-handed pitchers who never met the early exuberance that the Red Sox pictured for them. But, unlike Rodriguez, they were developed by Boston and not acquired via trade.
The Boston list of team developed left-handers is quite short. Mel Parnell at 123 wins is the all-time wins leader for Boston left-handers. Jon Lester follows up Parnell at 110 wins. Bruce Hurst finished his Boston career at 88 wins. Two great left-handers, Babe Ruth and Lefty Grove, were purchased.
So, just maybe, Rodriguez will be Grove and not Rohr?
I have seen Rodriguez pitch a few games at Pawtucket and left impressed. The command was present with only seven walks in 48.1 innings at Pawtucket. Rodriguez has three quality pitches – a fastball, change and slider – that he will toss at any count. In Pawtucket I saw Rodriguez toss back-to-back change-ups on a 3-1 count to get a called third strike.
Against the Rangers, Red Sox fans were given a nice portrait of the ability this 22-year-old has of mixing it up. And, don’t dismiss his curve. Rodriguez has one and will show it. With an above average fastball Rodriguez has the one pitch that can set-up hitters for his quality secondary pitches.
Expect some rough spots. They’ll be games where Rodriguez will get lit up. They’ll be games where location is not consistent. They’ll be games where he’ll look like a young pitcher. But the bottom line is this kid has the potential to be a significant contributor. For me he’ll be the Red Sox version of Tampa’s Chris Archer.
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