For the second year in a row, the Tampa Bay Rays left Aneury Rodriguez unprotected from the Rule 5 draft. The Rays originally acquired Rodriguez prior to the 2009 season, in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Hammel. Rodriguez went to the Rays’ AA affiliate, putting up a 4.50 ERA in 142 innings, with a 7.0 K/9, and a 3.7 BB/9. The performance wasn’t enough for Rodriguez to be selected in the 2009 Rule 5 draft, which would have required that he make the jump from AA to the majors.
Rodriguez was a top prospect in the Colorado system, with a 92-94 MPH fastball. After going to the Rays, his fastball velocity dropped to the high-80s. It remained in that range in early 2010, although Rodriguez did make the jump to AAA after some time back at the AA level. After two starts in AA, Rodriguez moved up to the AAA level, with a 3.80 ERA in 113.2 innings, along with a 7.4 K/9 and a 3.9 BB/9 ratio.
Rodriguez has a much better chance of sticking in the majors this year, which makes it a surprise that the Rays left him unprotected again. One concern is his velocity. There are reports that he was only hitting the high-80s in the early part of the 2010 season. While Rodriguez has touched 94 MPH, he can’t really be viewed as a 92-94 MPH pitcher, with the reports over the last two years.
Rodriguez did have success at the AAA level in 2010, which could make him a strong candidate to make the jump to the majors to start the 2011 season. If he was in the Pirates system right now, he’d be mentioned as a candidate for the major league rotation at some point during the 2011 season. Dejan Kovacevic says that Rodriguez is a strong possibility for the Pirates with the first overall pick.
Last year Rodriguez was my favorite player in the draft, despite having to make the jump from the AA level. He had a better year this year, and at a higher level. There are still questions surrounding him, such as his velocity, and he didn’t exactly have the best control. There have also been mixed reports on how effective his changeup can be. Rodriguez would be a good pick, and if selected, could compete for a spot in the 2011 rotation. If he doesn’t land that, he could use some time in the bullpen to adjust to the major league level, possibly making the move to the rotation later in the 2011 season, or in 2012. As an added bonus, if he got his fastball velocity back up to the 92-94 MPH range, he could become one of the better pitching prospects in the upper levels of the organization, joining the 2010 Altoona rotation.