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PuRP #30: Aneury Rodriguez

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The offseason is long, so to help build your enthusiasm for next year, I'll do profiles of each of our top 30 selections for the PuRPs list. Counting down to number one. I hope I'll be done in time for the next time we do a poll in February. I'm going to model these after the beautifully presented profile of David Price that Russ put up, actually I just copied and pasted and replaced the relevant stuff.

Aneury Rodriguez

But here's a link to a photo from the Tri-City Herald.

Position, 2006 Team: RHP, Tri-City Dust Devils (profile)

HT: listed 6'3" (but some articles say 6'5") WT: 180 lbs.

D.O.B. 12/13/1987
2005 Stats (Casper): 15 GM 15 GS, W-L 3-4, 62 IP, 77 H, 54/52 R/ER, 26 BB, 47 K, 7.55 ERA, .309 BAA

2006 Stats: 15 GM 15 GS, W-L 4-4, 76 IP, 78 H, 42/35 R/ER, 30 BB, 69 K, 4.14 ERA, .261 BAA

Bio: Aneury was signed into the Rockies Dominican program as a sixteen year old in 2004, and was put on a fast track to the States after scouts there saw how well he controlled his 90 mph fastball and had the fundamentals of what could be a devastating curve. Though he doesn't bring the same kind of heat as some prospects in the system, what sets Rodriguez apart is his advanced understanding of pitching and his ability to keep his pitches in the strike zone. He has a "loose arm action" and smooth delivery, although he doesn't use his frame to his advantage and doesn't conceal his pitches that well. His fastball could develop further umph as he matures, and he's got the makings of a decent change as well as the plus curve.

Casper in 2005 was definitely a learning experience for the seventeen year old as he struggled to adjust to the new culture, language and lifestyle in one of the toughest pitcher environments imaginable. Being so much in the strike zone definitely didn't help at Casper, as he allowed an astronomical 11.18 hits per nine innings.

Still, his debut was promising enough to earn him a reprieve from the Pioneer League and a promotion to a stadium at the opposite end of the spectrum in Tri-City for 2006. The season started off well enough, with Aneury winning three of his first four decisions and posting a 2.14 ERA with a 46/17 K/BB ratio in fifty innings and nine starts through July 31.

Things would quickly fall apart in August however, particularly in a start August 11 at Eugene. A little background might be in order to set the stage: in his prior start against the Emeralds at home on July 21, Rodriguez dominated, pitching eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball with ten K's and only one walk. It was his first win of the season and he did it in emphatic fashion. Maybe he was cocky the second time around. Maybe the Emeralds had noticed something and prepared, but in that start in August, Rodriguez got hammered. He got the second batter to fly out to center, but it would be the only out he recorded that day. By the time Jesus Lopez hit a bases clearing triple that made the score five to nothing, Aneury was done. Lopez would also come home to score in what was easily Rodriguez's worst outing of the season.

Bouncing back wasn't easy. Combined with the start just before that and the two just after, Rodriguez would allow 21 runs in just 13 IP in his first four starts for the month of August, which would equate to an ERA of 14.54. Still, he would prove his resilliency, and restore his prospect luster, in his last two starts of the season, going the next thirteen innings with giving up just one run with fifteen K's to one walk. His last start of the season was a complete game (the first of his career) gem at Boise on September 3.

Projection, Majors ETA: Rodriguez doesn't seem to have the pure stuff of a traditional "ace" and may never put up the kinds of strikeout totals you'd see from someone like Franklin Morales. He'll need one more pitch, maybe a second type of fastball or a harder breaking pitch to be considered a #2, so right now I'll project him to be a decent mid-rotation starter (#3 or #4) but there's certainly room for growth to a #2. I think the Rockies will allow him plenty of time to develop, and I don't see him cracking the big leagues until mid-summer 2009 or even 2010.

Other Links:

Aneury's Pitching Splits at MinorLeagueSplits.com

Aneury's Baseball Cube Page

"The Sky's the Limit," article by Jack Etkin at the Rocky Mountain News