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Minor League Ball Morning Report: Friday, June 15th, 2018

Changing the format a bit.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning everyone and welcome to the Minor League Ball Morning Report for Friday, June 15th, 2018.

****I’m going to experiment with the Morning Report format the next few days, doing some prospect tidbits each morning instead of a recap of interesting performances. You can find such recaps elsewhere and in the previous day’s Gameday. And, to be frank, recaps are rather tedious to write. So let’s change it up a bit.

****Highlights from yesterday can be found in the Gameday discussion thread.

****Let’s talk a bit about San Francisco Giants rookie Dereck Rodriguez, who had another good start yesterday. He’s now made three starts and one relief outing in the majors, posting a 4.34 ERA in 18.2 innings. He’s given up 23 hits but with a pretty nice 16/6 K/BB so far. He was performing well in Triple-A before his promotion (3.40 in 50 innings, 53/11 K/BB).

Rodriguez wasn’t a hot prospect pre-season. I didn’t have him among the Top 20 Giants prospects for 2018, although he did merit a C+ grade which would have put him in the 20s somewhere. The Giants had picked him up as a minor league free agent out of the Minnesota Twins system. He had a solid 2017 minor league season with the Twins (3.27 ERA in 143 innings between High-A and Double-A, 121/38 K/BB) and was notable as the son of Ivan Rodriguez, but as a 25-year old with no Triple-A experience, he was seen mainly as a system depth player and not someone who the Giants would be pushing into the rotation.

Well he’s up now and holding his own. Yes, sample size, but I nonetheless think that what we’ve seen so far does truly represent his true ability level. Stealing the pitch descriptors from Brooks Baseball,

His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has essentially average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His curve has a sharp downward bite, has slight glove-side movement and has slightly below average velo. His sinker has less armside run than typical and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker. His change generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups, has a lot of backspin, is slightly firmer than usual and has slight armside fade. His slider is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sliders, has much less depth than expected, is much harder than usual and has primarily 12-6 movement.

Looking at video, his delivery seems generally conventional with no red flags that stand out to me. Move up to 0:58 and it looks like he can hit a bit, too, not surprising since he used to be an outfielder.

So, one sentence summary: he’s got five pitches, throws strikes, has bloodlines, and a solid performance record. I don’t see any reason why he can’t be a fine fourth starter and that’s nice value as a minor league free agent.