September is right around the corner and unfortunately the standings aren’t exactly in favor of our beloved Redlegs. While there is still a chance to make a run into the playoffs, the odds aren’t very good. There is something to look forward to in the final month of the regular season though. In one of baseballs strange rules, the rosters expand for the final month of the year and teams will often call up young prospects to fill out the bench and bullpen. Last year we saw Billy Hamilton come up and become a true weapon off of the bench in the running game. This year we won’t see anything like that, but there could be an exciting young player coming up with loads of talent to work with.

Way back in August of 2008 the Cincinnati Reds signed a young Venezuelan outfielder to a $2.5M signing bonus, which was a record for Venezuelan players at the time. That player was Yorman Rodriguez. He has played stateside in the farm system every year since 2009, having both his ups and his downs along the way. The Reds have pushed him through the system, at times more aggressively than I believe they should have, but for the most part he has been able to hold his own at each level, though he hasn’t found a season where he has been very good yet either.

He has always been very young for the levels in which he was playing though and a good example of that is that from 2009-2011 he didn’t face a single pitcher that was younger than he was. For 2012-2014 combined he had 26 total plate appearances against pitchers that were younger than he was. Rodriguez turned 22-years-old 11 days ago. He is already in his second option year because of how early he signed and when he needed to be added to the 40-man roster, meaning that 2015 will be his last option year and he’s never actually put on a Major League uniform.

Rodriguez started out the season well in Double-A Pensacola, hitting .325/.361/.442 in April before he went down with an oblique injury that cost him a little more than two weeks. He returned later in May and it seemed like it was too soon as he hit just .139/.184/.208 on the month after returning. That poor month has really hid all of the good that he has done this season. Outside of May we are looking at a .292/.361/.437 line from a player who is among the youngest players in Double-A.

He has always been one of, if not the most toolsy players in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. He’s a true five-tool player who can hit for an average, has some power potential in his bat, has plus speed, can play defense in center or in the corners and has a big arm. All of the parts have been there, but over the last year-and-a-half he has taken those tools are he has begun to turn them into usable baseball skills on the field.

Things have gotten even more interesting of late. In August he has gone from a guy who has been solid on the season to a guy who is just destroying the baseball. In 102 plate appearances on the month he has hit .325/.431/.614 with 10 doubles, a triple and four home runs. The biggest key has been his patience at the plate. It’s been a process over the years as he’s gone from an aggressive swinger to someone who really seems to understand both the strikezone and has shown an ability to make the adjustments at the plate on offspeed pitches. In August he has walked 16 times, which is easily a career best for him in a given month. The transformation may be happening and it would seem that the big league club has also taken notice.

When looking at the Reds moving forward over the next few years, there are really only two spots that would seem to be available to be up for grabs if someone steps up. Shortstop and left field. In his career, Rodriguez had played left field a grand total of one time, as a 17-year-old in 2010 with the Billings Mustangs. With a big arm and plus speed, it makes sense that he has spent time in center and right field for his minor league career as his abilities are much better in the roles needed there than in left where a big arm typically is wasted.

For the previous 30 games, Rodriguez had played center field exclusively for Pensacola. That all changed in the last few days as his four most recent starts have all come in left field for the Blue Wahoos. That can’t be a coincidence that one of their top prospects is having the best run of his career, is on the 40-man roster and there could be an opening at the position moving forward and he finds himself playing that position after not spending a game there over the last three years and only one game in his entire career.

All signs are pointing to the Reds bringing up Rodriguez in September and at the very least working him in for a few games as their starting left fielder. While it would surprise me if he were to be the guy to count on in April of 2015, the Reds probably would like to get a decent look at him in September and next spring to get a better feel on exactly what they have. He is still growing into and rounding out his skills, he could be an exciting player to keep an eye on when September rolls around even if the Reds do fall completely out of the race.

Join the conversation! 39 Comments

  1. I’m all for trying him out…for more than a few appearances. The Reds have an opportunity to let some of the minor leaguers get some playing time in September this year and a need to find out what their abilities are going into next year.

  2. Wild thought – is it possible he could play RF and slide Jay over to LF? I know that’s another “big arm wasted” there, but if it helps Jay’s knee stay healthier (though he seems to have recovered for the most part) it gives us an outfield that can cover any park any time.

    • That doesn’t sound as bad as the whole “Jay at first” experiment

      • Agreed – I mean Jay is obviously talented, but he was way over-matched at 1B.

  3. Even if Yorman hits the same in the big leagues as he has in the minors (.250/.300/.400) it sounds like he could replace Heisey as the 4th outfielder, given his plus defense and running. Juan Duran is on the same timeline, but probably not as likely to be a viable extra player. Although Duran has been better this year, he may have to be traded to AL to have any value.

    • a .700 OPS with plus defense would be our starting LF all year considering the 2014 competition!

  4. Three thoughts. 1) I’d love to see a serious look at one (or more) future Reds this September. 2) I hope the Reds don’t somehow think that Lutz has somehow had a real chance to show that he can be a major league hitter yet. He needs (and if it’s possible, deserves) that chance even if his future is not with the Reds but as a prospect who might bring returns from elsewhere. But given his age he’s probably worth more to the Reds than to other clubs. I hope he gets a real shot soon. 3) I’m excited that there may be four or five real prospects to add offense to the Reds outfield in the next couple of years: Rodriguez, Lutz, Ervin, Winker, and… Hamilton. Let’s hope we see that group create a Dodgers-like outfield logjam along with Mr. Bruce.

  5. All of a sudden the Reds have several offensive rookies that are burning down the road from Pensacola. We all were looking at our future pitching prospects and now we have several key possibilities out of nowhere.

  6. The Reds have nothing to lose by bringing up Yorman once the rosters expand since he is already on the 40-man roster. even if he sits the bench and just takes in the experience, he hasn’t lost any development since the minor league season is over. The same situation applies to the Big Lutz. The real question becomes one of opportunity cost for the Reds.

    Do the 25 games and playing time during September provide any benefit to Hamilton and/or Bruce. Might Bruce and Hamilton even benefit by limited playing time during the final month? Could 25 games of regular consistent playing time against major league competition and pitching for Yorman and Lutz benefit both the players and the Reds? I don’t think there is any realistic argument against playing Yorman and Lutz full time in every game during September.

    I think the same argument applies to Soto playing 1B/3B during September. There is simply no reason not to play Soto ful time in all 25 games during Spetember.

    The argument really gets down to playing time for the next level of players: Negron & Elmore for players already on the 40-man roster and Perez & Navarro for players not on the 40-man roster.

    • Yorman’s AA numbers are barely better than Ludwick’s MLB ones and you declared the latter totally unacceptable for a starting LF! But now you want a guy who puts up barely adequate numbers in AA to start every day in the bigs.

      Hamilton is still developing himself and should continue to get as much experience as he can. Jay’s having a lousy year and should be given a chance to bring his numbers up. Both are certain starters next year; why should they sit now? Maybe Tucker Barnhart should get every start at Catcher, too.

      • The argument I would make is that Yorman represents someone who can, and has, made fast improvements to his game as a guy who is 21-years-old (turned 22 less than two weeks ago). When guys have things click, their overall numbers don’t always reflect that happening. Then of course is that Rodriguez is an opposite field hitter playing in a park where right field plays like Petco does. It crushes his ability to hit for power there, and even some average. If you look at his splits for home/road, it’s night and day.

        Yorman Rodriguez is also a better defender than Ludwick is on a tools basis. Much better speed, much better arm. That doesn’t mean he’s better right now because well, he lacks the experience and that may or may not be an issue. I haven’t been able to see him play enough in left to really know.

        But the key is: The Reds aren’t going anywhere with or without Ludwick. The information they can get on Rodriguez in September could be quite valuable and the playing time he gets could be valuable for his development as well. It’s tough to lose out on a situation where Rodriguez gets 15-20 starts in left field over Ludwick in September of 2014 for the Reds.

        • How often do players get called up from AA with no AAA or MLB experience and get virtually all the starts in September? And how many of those had the pedestrian overall stats that Yorman does?

      • Shchi said he should start in September, not that he should be the opening day LF in 2015. I think everybody would be pretty surprised if that happens, as Doug said in his piece. But Kevin, you completely ignore several factors in your Ludwick love:
        First, context. Minor league stats must be taken in context. Age, league, plate discipline numbers all need to be looked at. Doug provides the context for Yormans numbers in his piece. Particularly interesting is that he had one horrible month when he first came back from injury that has kept his numbers down. Next, ceiling. Who is more likely to be better going forward. Their numbers this year don’t matter except in projecting next year’s numbers. Yorman is a 22 year old, five tool player. Ludwick is in his mid 30’s.
        Maybe the biggest thing you missed is that you completely ignored defense and base running. Ludwick is below average at both of those things, so he has to put up offensive numbers that are well above average to have value. He hasn’t done that and he is now below replacement level. Yorman has enough range to play center and a big arm. He is also supposed to be a pretty good runner, so if his offensive numbers are even close to ludwick then Yorman will be much more valuable.
        Oh yeah, almost forgot, money. Ludwick will cost the reds 4.5 mil next year to keep.(difference in option and buyout). Yorman will make league minimum if he is in the majors. I don’t see Yorman being ready in April 2015, but I could see it in June or July possibly, and the reds have to get him in the big leagues in 2016.

        • As usual, you attack a Strawman, not what I actually said. The post responded to wanted Yorman to play every game in September; it was that I was objecting to, not him getting some starts there. And if he is clearly not going to be ready to start in 2015, what is the point of that? Of course, young minor league players can develop (certainly I never claimed otherwise) but Yorman has played barely adequately in AA up till now. He is simply not ready to contribute on the major league level at this point and probably needs at least a year in AAA; we don’t even know if he can handle the pitchers there, never mind in the bigs.

          I’m not particularly fond of Ludwick playing LF; if you remember correctly I advocated picking up a big bat like Marlon Byrd. But if Ludwick is to be replaced in 2015, I’d prefer it would be with a major league bat and not untested rookies who have so-so minor league numbers or guys who have proven they cannot perform when given a starting role like Heisey.

          There seems to be a lot of hostility on this board to anyone who questions the prevailing “wisdom”. That is typical of internet blogs but still not very conducive to rational discussion. Those who insist on personalizing these matters should rethink their approach.

        • Go read your first post in this thread, Kevin. Tell me who’s acting hostile and attacking people. As for strawmen, that’s a cool little phrase but it has nothing to do with my post since I addressed what seemed to be the point you were making. You were the one who compared yorman to Ludwick. If I misunderstood your post, maybe you should try to explain your point better instead of being snarky and sarcastic with everyone, and trying to argue over every little thing. That’s why people seem to be hostile towards you.

        • I’m not interested in engaging in some kind of personal vendetta. Stick to baseball rather than critiquing my posting style.

  7. That being said, I’m fine with Yorman getting a cup of coffee and some starts. But I don’t think it is realistic to suppose he can completely skip AAA and play for the Reds starting next season. He’s only 22 and he really has had only a couple of good months in AA.

    • I appreciate that you feel confident in putting your own spin on someone else’s opinion or statements. It’s a talent you excel at. Not once did I say or even imply that Yorman could or would start in LF in 2015 and completely skip AAA. I also appreciate your inability or unwillingness to look beyond the basic numbers to make any evaluation, especially when it doesn’t fit your agenda. That’s another talent you excel at.

      • You said it not me Cossack but I will agree. I would add though that Hamilton is very much in the mix for Rookie of the Year and if it looks like he will win it they I would suspect he would play every day. I would like to see as many of our minor league guys take on major league roles as possible. The Reds have not been very cordial to either Soto or Lutz.

        I think Kevin must have skipped over the oblique injury section. If you remove his stats from when he was injured and the time rushing back he had a fantastic season… I was also hoping that Winker would be back sooner but his wrist injury must be serious.

        • The wrist ingjury to Winker this season and the wrist injury to Ervin last season…yes, any wrist injury can be very serious and lingering. Hopefully both Ervin and Winker will explode in 2015 after full recoveries. With the setbacks, they simply won’t be availble to help at the major league level, at least to start the 2015 season.

      • Cossack – Kevin actually comes out of left field with some of his thoughts and views – he doesn’t want to see Yorman hardly get a sniff of big league action yet he drools over “We got Jack for that Hannahan” getting all the playing time he can

      • If there’s little or no chance that Yorman can start in 2015, it doesn’t make much sense to play him every day in September 2014.

  8. For the reasons mentioned above, I agree with the philosophy of playing prospects as much as possible once a team is out of contention. However, the Reds historically don’t subscribe to that approach. The Reds typically play their “best” players through the end of the season, especially against clubs still in contention. Rarely do they deviate, although I wish they did.
    Bill

    • That was the case with Dusty Baker. Let’s see if Price has a different plan, or if Walt will actually be able to convince Price to do it (I think it’s clear he couldn’t convince Dusty to).

      • to be fair to Dusty, we WERE in contention at the end of the season (for the most part) over the last few years

    • A lot of young guys got playing time in 2011 under Dusty: Frazier, Alonso, Mesoraco, Francisco, Sappelt, and Cozart would have had he not got injured.

      • The usage of Mesoraco under Dusty was about as bad as you can possibly handle a top prospect. Frazier split time with Rolen even when it was clear to everyone that Frazier was the better option. Cozart was and continues to be the only option at short, so there is no surprise there.

        Dusty played the young guys when there really weren’t other options. When there were, even if they weren’t much, the young guys didn’t play much.

        • So far Price has shown a tendency to go with the veterans over the young guys even when the veterans weren’t producing and even when it involved playing them out of position.

        • Doug, we’re going to have to agree to disagree about Dusty. What you’re saying is simply not true, but I’ll need to wait until after work to take the time to show my side.

          I love this site, but my biggest (really only) complaint is the abuse that Dusty takes. I know he had his flaws (many flaws), but the Reds were losers before Dusty and winners when he left. Yes it’s arguable how much he had to do with that, but I think he had plenty. There’s no way to prove it, but I would bet a lot of money we’d have a better record right now under Dusty versus Price. I complained about Dusty too while he was here (especially the bunting), but he’s gone now and I appreciate what he did for the franchise. I wish fans would leave it at that.

        • Dusty had his good points but there is universal agreement inside and outside Cincy and WAY BACK into the chicago and san fran days that Dusty prefered veterans.

        • Watching Meso’s meteoric rise through the minors and promotion only to sit the bench for several series a stretch – it was no wonder he faltered early in his MLB career. When you are a player’s manager you are naturally more of a veteran’s manager than a rookie’s manager. It was Dusty to the core – I don’t see it as an accusation, just an observation.

        • WKUChad, with specific regards to Mesoraco, there is no way around it. The Reds called up the top prospect at his position in all of baseball and relegated him to a backup spot for a career back up to start for two years. I don’t recall that ever happening before with any team.

          Joey Votto didn’t start right out of the gate, he split time with Hatteberg in April before Hatteberg just showed himself incapable to hitting.

          Frazier was better than Rolen was in 2012, but when Rolen was healthy, Rolen was playing third. Frazier moved around to left, first and third to get playing time.

        • Not sure what Meso vs Hannigan has to do with the point I made. I was responding to the statement that the reds under Dusty didn’t play young guys in September when they were out of the race. In 2011, a lot of guys got their first meaningful MLB experience in August and September. That’s not really debatable.

          As for Mesoraco, I agree with you: the reds really mucked up that situation. I’ve been a big Meso fan since the first time I saw his swing, and I was never a big fan of Dusty Baker. But I don’t think you can blame that whole situation on Dusty. He didn’t make the rosters: he just decided who played and when. And in 2012, it’s pretty clear that Hannigan was the better offensive and defensive player. If you believe in the pitch framing numbers, then Hannigan was light years ahead of Mesoraco in 2012. Playing Meso would have been the correct thing to do for the future, and maybe he would have performed better playing 5 times per week. But Dusty’s job was to win ballgames now and he thought Hannigan playing gave them the best chance , and the numbers back him up in 2012. The bigger issue for me is why was Meso even in Cincy if he was only going to play once or twice per week. They could have used Navarro as the backup and had Devin in AAA until June or July to delay the start of his service time. Instead, they used one of Devins pre arb years and got very little out of it. Now they are in a situation where they have just gotten one good year out of Meso and he’s already arb eligible. That was dumb.

          As for last year,yes, Meso should have been the man, even when Hannigan was healthy. But Meso did get quite a bit of playing time last year and didn’t exactly seize the opportunity.

  9. no way in hades:

    “There’s no way to prove it, but I would bet a lot of money we’d have a better record right now under Dusty versus Price”

    Dusty’s team quit on him last year. Price’s team is still firing with wet ammo, but there is no sign of the quit that the team had last year.

    Dusty would have resigned by the beginning of August declaring that he has nobody to play the game.

    Dave Miley would have had the same success with those teams that Dusty had, but of course there is no way to prove it….

    of all the retread managers, we got the worst one for our scenario

  10. Doug, good article. You must watch the minor league games on a regular basis, so I trust you know what you are talking about. With that being said, the way this season has gone, I cannot get excited about Yorman Rodriguez. If playing him in September can increase his value and help get us an All-star caliber left fielder, then call him up and play him everyday! If not, then it’s just a lateral move in my opinion. Not really going forward by having him play and not going backward if he doesn’t.

  11. I am glad to hear that Pensacola has moved YorRod over to LF. By your accounts, at the plate he has set August on fire. I hope he gets a September call up. It looks as if the Reds have that in mind. The fans will like his play in the OF. They will fall in love with his arm. In my very humble opinion, his arm is better than Bruce’s. No knock on Bruce, just that YorRod’s arm is outstanding and accurate.
    You know, a platoon of YorRod and Negron in LF might work in September.

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