4. Alfredo Rodriguez, Shortstop
Get ready to see a lot of Alfredo Rodriguez this spring. The 24-year-old Cuban is a non-roster invitee to this year’s Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds and he has shot up through the farm system over the past two years. He has the ability to make a giant step forward this coming season, and an invite to Spring Training should be the first clue that this guy is really good.
Rodriguez was all over the Reds Minor Leagues last season. He spent time in Daytona, Pensacola, and Arizona, however, a lot of that moving around was due to injury. The shortstop prospect spend two separate stints on the DL in 2018.
The Reds snagged Rodriguez at the start of the 2016 signing period with a signing bonus of $7 million. Throughout his Minor League career, Rodriguez has spent time in the Dominican Summer League, the Florida State League, the Arizona League, and the Southern League.
Defensively, Rodriguez is a star. This young man can make all the plays and the throws. He has a plus-arm and plus-speed, both of which are incredibly useful and necessary to play the shortstop position. Where Rodriguez struggles is at the plate.
In 46 games last season, spanning stops in Daytona, Pensacola, and Arizona, Rodriguez hit only .241 with an on-base percentage below .300. That’s not going to cut it and it’s a big reason why the young man could have difficulty making it to the big leagues. However, if he’s able to figure it out at the dish, his elite level defense will help him to stick at the Major League level.
One would expect Rodriguez to start the season at Double-A Chattanooga, however, since he’s coming off an injury-riddled season, the Reds may start him at Advanced-A Daytona. If he does being the 2019 season there, don’t expect him to stay there long provided he’s healthy. If Rodriguez can stay on the field and improve his hitting, he could end the season in Double-A if not higher.