Name: Jean Carlo Rodriguez
H/W: 5'10'', 170
It hasn't taken long for Jean Carlo Rodriguez to make himself a player to watch in the A's organization. The infielder signed with the A's as an amateur free agent out of Panama early in 2013. He made a strong first impression during the Dominican Summer League season, putting together one of the better seasons of any player on the A's DSL club.
Rodriguez emerged as a prospect to play professional baseball while participating in the Panamanian national tournament. During the tournament, Rodriguez was coached by A's scout Juan Mosquera. Mosquera recommended that the A's sign Rodriguez.
After signing with the A's, Rodriguez was sent to the organization's Dominican baseball academy. He played well during the A's Dominican version of extended spring training, and Rodriguez continued that good play into the DSL regular season. He played in 64 games for the DSL A's and posted a .302/.373/.378 line. Rodriguez had 14 extra-base hits, a 19:20 BB:K and 12 stolen bases in 17 chances. He played all over the field, logging games at second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field.
The DSL is a notoriously difficult league to hit in, primarily because the heavy air makes it hard to hit for much power. Consequently, the outfielders pinch in and are often able to catch balls that would normally fall in front of outfielders for base hits. Rodriguez performed significantly above league-average at the plate in several categories. He out-hit the league-average slashline of .236/.329/.317, while posting a significantly lower K-percentage (8.3% to the league-average 18.9%) and a higher line-drive percentage (13.2% to the league-average of 10.3%).
Rodriguez is a classic contact hitter who uses the whole field and has above-average bat control. His skills play well at the top of a batting order in either the first or second hole, as he sees a lot of pitches, knows the strike-zone and doesn't swing-and-miss that often. Rodriguez doesn't have much power now, although he has yet to finish growing and maturing physically. He has above-average speed and should be an asset on the bases.
"He takes what's given to him and hits the ball all around the field," former A's minor league hitting coordinator Todd Steverson said. "Right field, left field, center field. He's got a good little approach."
Defensively, Rodriguez already offers a team a lot of versatility. Naturally a middle infielder, Rodriguez showed he could handle the hot corner in 2013, while also holding his own in the corner outfield spots. Many young players come into professional baseball only able to play one position, so Rodriguez is already at an advantage being able to slot into a number of different spots.
"Jean Carlo improved a lot defensively in the less than a year that it's been since he signed," A's International Scouting Coordinator Sam Geaney said. "He's really bought into the instruction at the facility, working with Carlos Casamiro and Juan Navarette when he's been down there.
"His arm strength was a bit short when we got him but it's improved to average. He can play all three infield positions and even filled in for us in the outfield late in the season. As we introduce these kids to the US program it behooves them to be able to play multiple positions as there is frequently competition for at-bats."
The A's have been impressed with Rodriguez's work ethic since he signed with the team. He has made significant strides with less than a year of professional coaching, a trait that bodes well for his future development.
After a solid first season in the DSL, Rodriguez should be ready to make the jump to the US in 2014, likely to play with the Arizona Rookie League A's. He will turn 18 in mid-January.