Cincinnati Reds: 3 dark horse candidates to start at shortstop in 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 22: Alex Blandino #0 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a runner out after fielding the ball in the seventh inning. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 22: Alex Blandino #0 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a runner out after fielding the ball in the seventh inning. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Alfredo Rodriguez #69 of the Cincinnati Reds tags Austin Allen #30 of the Oakland Athletics out at second.
GOODYEAR, AZ – February 28: Alfredo Rodriguez #69 of the Cincinnati Reds tags Austin Allen #30 of the Oakland Athletics out at second. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /

2. Alfredo Rodriguez, Reds shortstop

Before there was José García, Alfredo Rodriguez was the hot international signing out of Cuba. The Cincinnati Reds spent $7M in order to sign back in 2016, and the 26-year-old has yet to see any time in the big leagues. Perhaps this season, with uncertainty at shortstop and García in need of more time in the minors, Alf-Rod will get his shot.

Rodriguez is an elite-level defensive shortstop. The problem is, his bat has never matched his defensive production. During his four seasons in the minor leagues, Rodriguez has posted a slash line of .252/.302/.310 with five career home runs and just 93 RBIs. Those numbers aren’t very impressive, and Rodriguez’s limited time in Triple-A Louisville saw him hit just .169 in 88 plate appearances.

Alfredo Rodriguez has beeen hampered by injuries, with the worst coming in 2018. Rodriguez suffered a broken hamate bone which resulted in him playing just 46 games. Last year would have likely been a make-it or break-it year for Rodriguez, but the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the minor league baseball season and we never him make an appearance in the majors.

Entering spring training this go-around, Alfredo Rodriguez has a golden opportunity. While not many fans are familiar with his resumé, Rodriguez can flat-out pick it and will put together some dazzling defensive plays. If his bat has improved, there’s an outside shot that Rodriguez makes the squad out of Goodyear and sees some time at shortstop.