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Prospect Profile: Sean Rodriguez

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Sean Rodriguez was drafted by the Angels in the third round in 2003, out of high school in Miami. He hit .269/.332/.380 with 11 steals in the Arizona Rookie League in 2003. He was considered a decent, if undersized, athlete but with questions about his bat. There were also questions about his defense. He had a strong arm, but not everyone felt he could play shortstop due to range limitations, and some even suggested moving him to catcher. I gave him a Grade C in the 2004 book.

Rodriguez began '04 with Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, holding his own wiht a .250/.333/.393 mark with 14 steals in 57 games. Sent back to Provo in the Pioneer League once short-season ball started in June, he hit .338/.486/.569 with 10 homers and excellent plate discipline. His defense at shortstop improved enough to keep the Angels interested in him at that position. I gave him a Grade B-.

Rodriguez went back to Cedar Rapids in 2005 and played the full season, hitting .250 but with 14 homers, 27 steals, and 78 walks. Despite the batting average mediocrity, the other numbers were all very solid. I lowered his grade to C+ in the '06 book, but this was more because I was still wondering about his defense. . .his range did not impress me when I saw him in person and I thought he'd be better off at second base.

Promoted to Rancho Cucamonga in 2006, he hit .301/.377/.545 with 24 homers, 15 steals , and a 47/124 BB/K ratio, a big deterioration in his plate discipline though it obviously did not inhibit his production.  He hit .354/.462/.662 in a late promotion to Double-A. I was impressed with his production obviously, and gave him a Grade B+ in the book last year, writing that he could develop in a Bobby Grich direction: hitting .260 or so but with strong power/speed production.

In retrospect that was too aggressive and I didn't account enough for California League stat inflation, though in my defense much of the enthusiasm was from seeing him in person in '05 and '06 and not just based on the numbers. Lsat year he hit .254/.345/.423 with 17 homers, 15 steals, and 54 walks but 132 strikeouts for Double-A Arkansas. I lowered him a bit to Grade B this year, which is still more than most people expect out of him. He has a habit, apparently, of playing really well when I see him. This is sort of the opposite of the Steve Register Effect: every time I see Steve Register of the Rockies system pitch, he gets crushed. Every time I see Sean Rodriguez play, he does really well. Interesting coincidence that they both have SR initials.

Anyhow, the general expectation is that Rodriguez could be a fine utility player but won't do quite enough to be a regular. I retain hope that he could do better than that, at least at second base. He'll need to cut back on his strikeouts a bit for it to happen.