STATE COLLEGE — 30 minutes to first pitch …
Game: State College Spikes vs Auburn Doubledays, 7:05 p.m.
Site: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Pitching: LHP Joely Rodriguez vs RHP Colin Bates.
Weather: 84 degrees.
Game Updates: My Twitter Feed
State College Spikes:
5. Wes Freeman, LF
6. Michaelangel Trinidad, 1B
7. Walker Gourley, 2B
1. Seth Bynum, SS
2. Hendry Jimenez, 2B
3. Russell Moldenhauer, 1B
4. Adrian Nieto, C
5. Angelberth Montilla, CF
6. Rick Hughes, LF
7. Justin Miller, 3B
8. Roberto Perez, DH
9. Connor Rowe, RF
I’ve seen Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie make their pro debuts live, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m looking forward to Joely Rodriguez more than those two. I don’t want to make it sound like things are set in stone, but we knew Taillon was good, and we knew Allie had great stuff with command issues. These two aren’t surprises. Rodriguez is a surprise.
I saw Rodriguez last year in Williamsport. I made the trip up to the road game at the end of the year, specifically to see Zack Dodson pitch. Rodriguez had just been called up from the GCL, and was making his second relief appearance for the Spikes. What I saw was impressive enough for Rodriguez to be named our 39th best prospect heading in to the 2011 season.
Joely (pronounced Joe-ELLY) had impressive stuff for a left hander, with an 88-92 MPH fastball. He even touched 94 at times last year, which is impressive for an 18 year old (he turned 19 over the off-season). Rodriguez has a lot of movement on his fastball, which makes him a bit wild at times. However, his stuff looks great for his age and skill level (he spent one year in the Dominican Summer League before making the jump to the US in 2010).
I’ve been looking forward to his debut, mostly because it’s these types of prospects who the Pirates really need to excel. Nothing is guaranteed, but guys like Taillon and Gerrit Cole are expected to be top of the rotation starters. Every team has a strong chance of hitting it big with their first round pick, especially if they are picking first or second overall. Successful farm teams need guys like Rodriguez to step up and be legit prospects. They can’t just rely on first round picks. They need a few late round picks, and low bonus international players to surprise. Hopefully tonight is the start of Rodriguez’s big breakout season.