The Pirates Prospects 2014 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2014 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
We continue the countdown with the number 15 prospect, Joely Rodriguez.
15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
The Pirates are starting to get some left-handed talent in the lower levels of the system, but they don’t have many lefty starting options close to the majors. That changed this year with the emergence of Joely Rodriguez. He’s been mostly talent and potential prior to this season, but Rodriguez finally put things together in West Virginia, and then again in Bradenton, capping off his season by being added by the Pirates to their 40-man roster.
As an 18-year old, Rodriguez was hitting 88-92 MPH with his fastball, touching 94. The only problem was that he struggled with control at that velocity range, doing better in the upper 80s. The Pirates noticed the skill, and moved him to the rotation in 2011. He missed most of the season with an elbow injury, then returned to the NYPL in 2012 with good advanced metrics but poor overall results.
A big reason why he broke out in 2013 was due to improvements with his fastball command. Rodriguez was suddenly sitting 91-94 with the fastball, touching as high as 96, and commanding the pitch with good cutting movement. He has an above-average slider, which also has cutting movement, but wasn’t as effective when his fastball was sitting upper 80s, due to the slider featuring similar movement in the mid-80s. The changeup made big strides this year, sitting in the low-80s with late cutting movement away from right-handers. The theme with all of his pitches is they all cut.
Rodriguez has the potential to be a middle of the rotation starter, or a dominant lefty reliever similar to Justin Wilson. He should start the 2014 season with Altoona, and now that he’s on the 40-man roster, he could have a shot at the majors by mid-2015 or 2016.