November 20th, 2013
I profiled Baltimore Orioles left-handed pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez early in the Arizona Fall League season. My scouting comments on MLBPipeline.com indicated I felt Rodriguez has excellent potential to become part of the Orioles rotation in the near future.
My mind has not changed. In fact, I am even more convinced Rodriguez has the “pitchability” to start for Baltimore or any other club looking for a lefty with good pitching mechanics.
A look at Rodriguez’ fall numbers may speak a different story.
His final totals from the fall league included a 0-1 record with an ERA of 5.52 and a WHIP of 1.50.
But Rodriguez really stepped up and was counted when it mattered the most.
Rodriguez started his Surprise team’s 2-0 victory against Mesa in the Arizona Fall League Championship game. He threw three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and not walking a batter. He struck out four.
In those three innings, Rodriguez showed poise and control in the biggest game of the Fall League season. And yes, for those involved in the game, a Championship in that league means a great deal. He came through. Big time. He set a terrific tone for the game.
And he took control.
That’s what I like about the well proportioned, 6-foot-2, 200-pound Rodriguez. He takes charge. He doesn’t get rattled.
Rodriguez has a very smooth and uncomplicated delivery. He takes his time and finishes his pitches. He repeats a very clean, mechanically sound delivery.
He pitches as though he has absorbed quality coaching. He pitches as though he wants to be a pitcher, and not a thrower. There’s a huge, huge difference between a pitcher and a thrower. I happen to gravitate towards pitchers.
In four seasons of Minor League ball in the Orioles organization, Rodriguez has a very fine combined ERA of 3.14. He got touched up a bit in his latest promotion to Double-A Bowie, but he’ll rebound.
Rodriguez, from Venezuela, is only 20-years old. He has time to develop his secondary pitches and refine his repertoire.
His fastball (88-94) has great range of velocity and depth as it reaches the plate. He mixes in a very effective slider at 79-83 mph and can buckle knees with a changeup that sits between 80-84 mph. His pitch selection and sequencing is an advanced quality.
Rodriguez is mature beyond his age. He has the mound presence and demeanor of a pitcher several years older.
I’m not suggesting Rodriguez is ready to step into the Orioles rotation. However, I am suggesting he is a pitcher to watch very carefully as he progresses in his development and fine tunes an already positive approach to getting hitters out. And that’s what pitching is all about.
Getting hitters out.
He didn’t make the consensus Top 20 Arizona Fall League Players list, but Eduardo Rodriguez made a great impression on me.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and read my work on MLBPipeline.
That’s it. I’m done.
When watching Baltimore Orioles outfielder/designated hitter Henry Urrutia play in the Arizona Fall League, I couldn’t help but be reminded of former New York Mets star Darryl Strawberry.
The left-handed hitting Strawberry, 6-foot-6 and 190-pounds, played in the major leagues from 1983 until 1999.
Known for his powerful home run swing, Strawberry’s best home run year was 1988, when he blasted 39. He finished with a career batting average of .259.
Urrutia has the same tall, slender look of Strawberry. He is 6-foot-5, 200-pounds. Like Strawberry, he hits left-handed.
At one point, Urrutia was a switch-hitter. He has concentrated his efforts to hitting exclusively left-handed.
Urrutia, a native of Cuba, is 26-years old. He played last season, his first in this country, at three classifications. He began at Double-A Bowie, moved to Triple-A Norfolk, was promoted to the parent Orioles, returned to Norfolk and was called back to Baltimore as a September call-up.
Urrutia hit a combined .347 in 347 Minor League plate appearances.
He hit a very respectable .276 in his brief 58 trips to the plate playing for the Orioles.
Watching Urrutia in the recently concluded Arizona Fall League, he appears to be on the verge of a major breakout as an impactful left-handed hitter. Especially if he is used exclusively against right-handed pitching, where he is the most dangerous and seems to thrive.
Urrutia finished the fall with the third best batting average in the league, hitting .377 in 18 games and 69 at-bats.
Urrutia hit one of the longest homers during the Fall League season. It was a tremendous shot far over the wall in dead center field. It was one of his three home runs. He also had three doubles among his 26 hits.
He only struck out eight times, a figure among the lowest in the league relative to the number of his plate appearances.
Like Strawberry, Urrutia has a sweet, almost picture-perfect, level swing. He doesn’t have extraneous movement before the pitch, and his extension and follow-through are outstanding.
Again, not unlike Strawberry, Urrutia has lightning quick hands through the ball. They aren’t as fast as Strawberry’s, as Strawberry had some of the best bat speed I have ever scouted.
Urrutia is a line-drive machine. The ball jumps off his bat with that great barrel of the bat sound. He hits the gaps with regularity.
If he adds a bit of loft to his swing, he may get the distance and backspin to clear the fence more often. But why tamper with a swing that is so sound? He should leave well enough alone.
Defensively, Urrutia might be considered a liability.
He doesn’t get a good jump on the ball, takes circuitous routes and loses the flight of the ball off the bat. He is best used as a designated hitter.
When he does play defense, however, his arm strength is strong enough for him to be used in right field. Sparingly.
While he isn’t Darryl Strawberry, Henry Urrutia’s sound hitting mechanics should provide assistance to the Orioles from the left side of the plate. In fact, he may be “Darryl Strawberry-The Line-Drive Edition.”
I hope you’ll continue to read BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD and follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff. My articles on MLBPipeline.com appear three times a week.
That’s it. I’m done.