3. Alfredo Rodriguez, Reds shortstop
It’s now or never for Alfredo Rodriguez. While I don’t except the Cincinnati Reds to roll out of spring training with Rodriguez as the team’s starting shortstop, they need to see if the 26-year-old is ready for the big leagues. Cincinnati invested $7M, signing him out of Cuba in 2016. It’s time to see if Rodriguez has what it takes to be a big leaguer.
There’s no doubt that Rodriguez can play the position defensively. In fact, for as much as scouts rave about José García’s defense, Rodriguez is there superior defender. The problem lies, much like García, with Rodriguez’s bat. Over four minor league seasons, Rodriguez owns just a .612 OPS and a .302 on-base percentage.
Rodriguez is not a power hitter, as he has only five home runs in 1,203 minor league at-bats. That will certainly limit his opportunities in the major leagues. However, Rodriguez’s glove is his calling card, and based on Cincinnati’s horrendous infield defense last season, the idea of having him on the field late in games as a defensive replacement should be intriguing to David Bell.
In 14 games during last spring’s Cactus League, Alfredo Rodriguez slashed .364/.364/.606 with two home runs and four RBIs in 33 at-bats. The young infielder will need to duplicate that production this spring in order to get a look from Bell’s staff. Rodriguez will likely begin the season at Triple-A Louisville, but if he has success, he may make it to the bigs before season’s end.