Chris Rodriguez is a guy the LA Angels cannot contain their excitement about. After drafted him in the 4th round of the 2016 Draft he received immediate excitement from both the Angels and general baseball scouts around the league.
He’s had a bit of a bumpy start to his LA Angels career given his rough 2017 season (6.16 ERA in 57 IP) before a spring training injury to his back and kept him out all of 2018.
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This is only speculation, but given Chris Rodriguez’s smooth 2016 debut in the Arizona League (1.59 ERA in 11.1 IP) and the pure power of his stuff you’d have to wonder how bad his back affected him through 2017. Regardless of this speculation the Angels excitement comes not from his performances, but his makeup and electric stuff.
Chris Rodriguez is a four pitch pitcher, sitting most comfortable with his fastball/sinking two-seamer combo while throwing in an electric slider and above-average change-up to round out his repertoire. His fastball sits around the mid 90s while occasionally touching the upper 90’s. The slider he throws has monstrous potential, it’s the definition of a “now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t” breaking ball. With late, destructive movement his slider has left scouts raving about its elite potential. He has great stuff, this can’t be denied, but there is still much to be desired from Rodriguez mechanically in order to fully unlock his truest potential.
Drafted 2016 – 4th Round (#126)
The issue with Rodriguez is the way he uses his body on the mound. He doesn’t tap into his lower body strength enough, he’s an upper body power kind of guy. Things like this keep Rodriguez from getting a consistent delivery on his pitching motion as well as limiting the strength of his stuff. Without proper usage of his lower body he will find himself running into injury dangers until he learns his body better. He has the potential to throw his fastball in the upper 90’s, though that is dependent on him refocusing his physical energies through his entire body instead of being a high effort upper-body pitcher.
Rodriguez can break out big time in 2019, he’s probably the most likely Angels candidate for a breakout year. Once he is able to come into a better understanding of himself there is no question he will prosper. He has a great pitching IQ which will no doubt help greatly in his development, especially with his bodily mechanics. Those mechanics are really the only thing keeping him from breaking out in a big way in 2019, though he’s already made great improvements on his deliveries from 2016 to 2017 and no doubt will come back even stronger in 2019.
All in all, Chris Rodriguez projects as a middle of the rotation pitcher with his strong general repertoire and strong baseball IQ. However, there are certain things in his delivery, like his arm action, which seem more fitting for a power reliever than a starter. The Angels are working him out as a starter, but it should still be noted his floor as a back-end reliever. His success will come in the deception of his delivery and well as the fine tuning of his understanding with his body. Given his high baseball IQ it seems that he can pitch himself above his middle of the rotation potential once he taps into the true strength of his fastball. That would likely be what helps the rest of his development fall into order, and once it does fall into order you can expect to see Rodriguez have a huge 2019.
Developmental Needs: Proper Use of Body, Consistent Strike-Zone Control, Sustainability
Best Tools: General Stuff, Deceptive Delivery, Arm Action, Body Makeup, Pitching IQ
MLB ETA: 2021