The Reds have agreed to terms with Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez on a $7MM deal, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Rodriguez is a strong defensive shortstop with good speed, as Sanchez notes. He was the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year in Cuba’s Serie Nacional.
Rodriguez ranked sixth on MLB.com’s list of the top international prospects available this signing period. He has excellent speed and range. He doesn’t yet hit well, although MLB.com notes there is some hope his bat will develop.
Despite Rodriguez’s pro experience, he is subject to rules regarding international bonus pools, so his $7MM bonus represents a significant financial outlay for the Reds, who have a bonus pool of $5,163,400 and currently project to be penalized as the result of the signing. The Reds have long been connected to Rodriguez, with some reports indicating they had a deal with him all the way back in January, in the previous signing period.
Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote that Rodriguez is an elite defender, but has a ways to go with the bat.
Alfredo Rodriguez, the 2014-15 Serie Nacional rookie of the year and gold glove winner at shortstop, has left Cuba to pursue a contract with a major league team, Baseball America has learned.
Rodriguez, 21, has a long way to go as a hitter but was arguably the best defensive shortstop in Cuba. He’s an athletic, agile defender with smooth, fluid actions. He’s extremely light on his feet and has good body control and range, with an average arm. At around 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Rodriguez is a plus runner who ranked third in Serie Nacional in stolen bases with 12 steals in 16 attempts.
If Rodriguez gets to the major leagues, he likely will never hit higher than the bottom of the order, if his righthanded bat improves enough to get him there. In 84 games this past season for La Isla De La Juventud, Rodriguez batted .265/.301/.284 with three doubles, one triple, no home runs, 11 walks and 38 strikeouts in 304 plate appearances. Rodriguez did have some solid offensive years in the Cuban junior leagues, but his bat is still light. Based on his present ability, he would probably start his career at one of the Class A levels.
Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs had this report on Rodriguez, and he ranked him as his #12 international prospect.
Rodriguez, who’s a former recipient of Serie Nacional’s Rookie of the Year award, has been linked to the Reds for some time, and he’s expected to ink a $7 million deal with Cincinnati during the upcoming J2 period. Rodriguez is the most advanced defender in the class (he should be, he’s almost 23) and plays an acrobatic and effective shortstop. Though his arm is just average, Rodriguez has tremendous control of his body and finds ways to make timely and accurate throws from various platforms. His swing lacks effective use of the lower half and there’s never going to be impactful game power here, but he tracks pitches well, has good bat speed and solid hand-eye coordination which should lead to hard line-drive and ground-ball contact.
Rodriguez is a plus runner and he could outperform my current hit-tool projection (40) if he learns to BABIP pitchers to death by slashing and running more than scouts saw him doing in Cuba. He might ride his glove to an everyday job — and indeed there are worse all-around players than what Rodriguez projects to be trotting out to shortstop everyday — but he profiles better as a utility man. He is likely to be the first player from this class to debut in the majors.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquier reported that Raisel Iglesias is a big fan of Rodriguez.
The Reds have scouted Cuba heavily under Jocketty, but their biggest Cuban signings to this point have been pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias.
Rodriguez, 22, was Cuba’s rookie of the year in the 2014-15 season, but there has been skepticism among some in the baseball community about the Reds’ investment in Rodriguez.
Don’t count Iglesias among those. Iglesias said he doesn’t know Rodriguez but has seen him play and has been impressed.
“God’s blessed him, the way he plays defense is unbelievable,” Iglesias said, according to interpreter Julio Morillo. “He’s really relaxed and he makes everything look easy. He doesn’t feel pressure. It’s amazing.”
Iglesias added, “He fields good, he’s got a good arm, he can run, he has all the tools to play at this level.”
Nick is a lifelong Reds fan who was born and raised in Cincinnati. He acquired his love of baseball from his late grandfather. Nick moved to the Cleveland area in 2014 with his wife, and his currently fighting to convert his beautiful baby daughter Emma to Reds fandom. Nick has been writing for Redleg Nation since 2013. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicholaspkirby.