Joely Rodriguez has yet to find his groove in AA

Joely Rodriguez Moving to the Bullpen in Altoona

Joely Rodriguez came out of the bullpen in Altoona tonight after starting pitcher Orlando Castro went five innings. Altoona is just coming off their All-Star break, so I wanted to confirm that the move wasn’t due to the time off. According to Pirates’ farm director Larry Broadway, Rodriguez will be coming out of the bullpen “for the time being.”

Rodriguez has a 4.44 ERA in 99.1 innings this year with Altoona, along with a 4.9 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9 ratio. He’s been hit around a lot, and isn’t looking like the top lefty prospect who combined for a 2.70 ERA in two levels of A-ball last year.

The move reminds me of what happened with Justin Wilson a few years ago in Indianapolis. Wilson started the year with a 4.14 ERA in 113 innings, with a6.6 K/9 and a 4.6 BB/9 ratio. Wilson remained in the bullpen the rest of the season to work on getting back on track. He returned to the rotation the following year, and pitched as a starter until the Pirates needed him as a reliever in the majors later in the year.

I’d expect Rodriguez to return to the rotation at some point. He’s a lefty who can hit 94-95 MPH with his fastball on a consistent basis, working in the low-90s. He’s got a slider and a changeup, both of which can be average pitches or better. An optimistic view has him as a number three starter. A more conservative upside has him as a back of the rotation starter or a strong lefty reliever, similar to Wilson. Considering the pitching prospects that the Pirates have in the upper levels, Rodriguez might be limited to a relief role if he remains in the organization.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • S Brooks

    I hope he does return to the rotation, and I hope he is able to maintain consistency and get back on the development path as a SP, but that strong staff from Bradenton is coming up behind him. That, plus he’s already in option year #1 on the 40-man, and there may be a thought process to get him to Indy as a reliever next year rather than repeat AA as a starter, so that he can start providing some depth. The Bucs have traded away or released a lot of their upper-level relief over the last 12 months.

  • smurph

    His quickest path to the majors is likely as a RP.

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