JOELY RODRIGUEZ
LEFT HANDED PITCHER
Born: November 14, 1991
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 175
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009
How Acquired: Int. FA
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: LA Sports Management

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

Rodriguez is a lefty with a live arm who was pretty raw when the Pirates brought him to the US.  When I first saw him in camp, his fastball was getting as high as 95, although it was mostly in the low 90s.  His command was very poor at the time, but it’s improved markedly.  As a starter, he generally sits in the upper-80s to low-90s.  He throws a slider and change, but neither has been a swing-and-miss pitch so far.  He was effective as a starter in the low minors, but in the long run he might be more suited to relief.

2009
DSL:  2-5-0, 4.60 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 47 IP, 4.6 BB/9, 4.6 K/9 

Struggled in the DSL, allowing a .291 opponents’ average and walking the same number he struck out.

2010
R:  2-2-1, 3.99 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 47.1 IP, 1.3 BB/9, 4.9 K/9
A-:  0-0-0, 6.75 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 4 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 4.5 K/9 

Despite the weak DSL performance, the Pirates assigned Rodriguez to the GCL for his second pro season.  The move worked out well, as Rodriguez improved rapidly, enough so that the team promoted him to State College once the GCL season ended.  He dramatically improved his control, although his K rate was low.  His ground out to air out ratio was 1.93.  He got into two games at State College and pitched well in one and not the other.

2011
A-:  0-1-0, 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP, 5 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 5.4 K/9

Rodriguez opened at State College and struggled through two games before going on the disabled list for the rest of the season with an elbow injury.

2012
A-:  3-4-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 64.0 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 4.5 K/9

Rodriguez spent 2012 in the State College rotation.  He pitched well the first two months, but in August opponents batted .319 against him and he had an ERA of 4.98.  He made a lot of progress with his control, but had trouble locating within the strike zone.  His secondary pitches still have a ways to go, as shown by the extremely low K rate.  For some reason Rodriguez had a lot of trouble with left-handed hitters, who batted .389 against him.

2013
A:  5-5-0, 2.72 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 72.2 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
A+:  4-3-0, 2.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

Rodriguez made a lot of progress in 2013.  He opened the season in the West Virginia rotation and, after struggling a little in early April, had a nine-start stretch with an ERA of 1.01.  That earned him a promotion and he continued pitching well in high A.  Overall, his K rate was up, although it was higher before the promotion.  He had a big platoon split; on the season, left-handed batters hit only 212/290/281 against him, while right-handed batters hit 287/333/421.  He’s always been a groundball pitcher, but his groundball rate increased.  He may have tired a little — his innings total more than doubled from 2012, which wouldn’t count what he threw in extended spring training — as he didn’t pitch as well in August as July.  He still had a 3.68 ERA in August, though.

2014
AA:  6-11-1, 4.84 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 134.0 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 4.9 K/9

Rodriguez had a rough year, as he proved to be too hittable at the AA level.  He doesn’t have an out pitch and, unless it was perfectly located, his fastball often got hammered.  Through the beginning of July, he got mediocre but not terrible results.  After he struggled through his first three starts in July, the Pirates moved him to the bullpen for a month.  That didn’t work well at all — he had a 5.40 ERA and 1.86 WHIP in nine relief outings — and they moved him back to the rotation for three bad starts at the end of the season.  On a monthly basis, hitters posted the following lines against Rodriguez:

April:  312/361/325
May:  250/309/363
June:  257/311/283
July:  298/357/471
August:  355/417/566

On the plus side, Rodriguez got a lot of groundballs, and didn’t allow many extra-base hits as a starter.  It’s conceivable he tired late in the season, although he actually threw more innings total in 2013.  Left-handed batters had an OPS of .691 against him, right-handed batters .758.

Rodriguez took a step backward in 2014.  It remains to be seen whether the Pirates might consider removing him from the 40-man roster.  He should return to Altoona in 2015.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2015: Minor League Contract
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $55,000
MiLB Debut: 2009
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2013
Options Remaining: 2 (USED:  2014)
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
March 25, 2009: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.
November 20, 2013: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.