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SoxProspects News

January 20, 2016 at 7:00 AM

2015 Graduates in Review: Eduardo Rodriguez

As an extension of our Top 40 in Review series, we are featuring the seven players who were ranked in the SoxProspects.com Top 40 during the 2015 season and graduated from prospect status. All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
2015 Teams: Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 48 ⅓ IP, 2.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 44 K, 7 BB (minors); 121 ⅔ IP, 3.85 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 98 K, 37 BB (majors)
Peak System Ranking: 1 (June 30, 2015)
Graduated: July 2015 (#1)
Season in Review: 2014
Rodriguez optioned to Pawtucket
2015 SoxProspects Pre-Season All-Stars
Dunne: System Restart, Upper Level Pitchers
April Pitcher of the Month
Cundall: The Write-Up, May 5
Rodriguez called up to Boston
Rodriguez named SoxProspects.com Graduate of the Year

Season in Review: Expectations were high for the 22-year-old Venezuelan coming into 2015 following an electrifying debut with the Sea Dogs after being acquired for Andrew Miller at the trade deadline in 2014. Rodriguez pitched to a 0.96 ERA over 37 1/3 innings with Portland to close out that season. He started 2015 in Pawtucket, where he was dominant over his first four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 24 2/3 innings. His next four starts were hot-and-cold, as he went 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA, but he still was missing bats, striking out 22 over 23 2/3 innings.

The Red Sox called Rodriguez up to Boston to make a spot start against the Rangers on May 28, and before the game, manager John Farrell said that they would send the southpaw back down after one start. However, Rodriguez forced a change in those plans by tossing 7 2/3 shutout innings, giving up only three hits and two walks while striking out seven. He was just as good over his next two starts, and after his first 20 2/3 innings in the big leagues, he was 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA.

His next three starts were the polar opposite, as major league hitters made him pay for tipping pitches. He allowed 16 runs over 14 2/3 innings, and batters hit .339 against him. Curbing the issue was a work in progress throughout the season, and it is reflected in his up-and-down results. In a three-start stretch in July, he beat the Yankees by allowing two runs over 6 2/3 innings, was then pummeled by the Angels to the tune of seven runs allowed while recording only five outs, then turned around to beat the Tigers by allowing one run over seven innings. His best stretch of pitching came at the end of the season when he went 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his last seven starts. He surrendered 46 hits and 10 walks while striking out 35 over those final 43 1/3 innings.

The only left-handed starting pitcher in baseball who averaged higher fastball velocity than Rodriguez over the second half of the season was new teammate David Price, according to the PITCHf/x data on Fangraphs.com. Price’s fastball came in at 94.3 mph, while Rodriguez’s came in at 94.0. It is clear that Rodriguez has the stuff to succeed at the major league level, and the adjustments he made at the end of the season should have Red Sox fans excited for what he can accomplish in 2016. - Jim Crowell
Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Rodriguez has a solid pitcher's frame with minimal projection remaining. He is a solid athlete with a strong lower half, capable of handling the rigors of taking the ball every fifth day for the entire season. Rodriguez throws from a three-quarters arm slot with easy, loose action. He has a quick arm and stays on line to the plate, finishing his delivery in a good fielding position.

Rodriguez's fastball generally works in the 92-94 mph range, but can touch the high 90s when he is loose and the situation calls for it. He has good control of the offering, but his command can come and go at times, and he left too many heaters up in the zone. The pitch is on the straight side and when elevated can get hit hard. Rodriguez's best secondary pitch is his changeup, which he throws 86-88 mph range. The pitch is a plus offering already. Thrown with deceptive arm speed, it shows hard, sinking fade down and away to the glove side. He has great feel and confidence with the pitch, showing a willingness to throw it in any count. It is a true swing-and-miss offering at the big league level, and can be effective against both left- and right-handed hitters. Rodriguez also throws a slider, which has improved greatly over the last couple years. It's quickly gone from a work in progress to at least an average third offering with the potential to be above-average or even plus. Coming in around 82-85 mph, the pitch shows two-plane movement and late bite and depth when he finishes it.

After carrying over his improvements from the second half of the 2014 season, Rodriguez established himself as a quality starter at the big league level in 2015. Rodriguez already has a plus fastball and changeup, but continued refinement of his slider is the key for him to reach his ceiling. This season, he looks set to slot into the fourth spot in the Red Sox rotation, but he has the potential to develop into solid number two starter if not better in his peak. - Ian Cundall

Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor