Yesterday the San Diego Padres traded veteran outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. to the Toronto Blue Jays for right-handed pitching prospect Hansel Rodriguez. Here's a quick take on the newest piece of San Diego's rebuilding project.
Hansel Rodriguez, RHP: The Blue Jays signed Rodriguez as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in January, 2014, signing him for a bonus of $330,000. At the time he was viewed as a promising and projectable arm but was also quite raw. He pitched poorly in rookie ball in 2014 (7.11 ERA, 13/12 K/BB in 19 innings) but improved in '15 (4.68 ERA, 37/10 K/BB in 42 innings) and took another step forward this spring. He's currently pitching well for Bluefield in the Appalachian League, posting a 3.06 ERA in 32 innings with a 26/11 K/BB.
Listed at 6-2, 170 (but perhaps looking a bit bigger than that in person), Rodriguez was born February 27, 1997. He throws quite hard, reportedly hitting 98 MPH this year according to Baseball America, but his secondary pitches need considerable polish. His general control isn't horrible in that he doesn't walk the ballpark, but his command within the strike zone needs a lot of work. Still, he's come a long way since 2014 when he couldn't get anyone out.
Rodriguez will need time but I rather like his potential and would give him a Grade C+ right now.