It was an up-and-down year at the plate for Jhonny Rodriguez, but the 20-year-old native of the Dominican Republic showed flashes of great promise while playing with the Vermont Lake Monsters and the AZL A's. Rodriguez spent the first half of the 2016 season at extended spring training before joining the Lake Monsters at the start of the short-season schedule. He got off to a fast start, batting .283 in 13 June games. Rodriguez struggled in July (.175 in 17 games), but he had five hits (including four for extra-bases) in five August games with the Lake Monsters before finishing his season with a torrid four-game stretch in Arizona (five hits and two walks in 15 official at-bats). All told, Rodriguez posted a .240/.273/.347 line in 150 at-bats this season.
Rodriguez has been an outfielder exclusively throughout his minor league career, but he got some time at first base during extended spring training and played one game at the position with Vermont. He is likely to continue to get work at both spots going into next year.
Rodriguez spoke with Donald Moore during a late July Vermont roadtrip about his 2016 and goals for the future.
Donald Moore: Hi Jhonny, how is everything going for you so far this season?
Jhonny Rodriguez: First thing, I thank God for the opportunity to be here. We started off really good this season, but right now, we are in a slump but we are working to get out of that slump as soon as possible.
DM: What are your goals for this year?
JR: Get out of the slump, finish strong this season and hopefully we can finish in a a higher level. We are going to keep our defense and offense in a higher level.
DM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a ballplayer?
JR: I'm a power hitter and my defense is one of my signatures.
DM: What would you'd like to improve on?
JR: I would like to improve my speed on the bases and use that speed to help me on my defense.
DM: What is the best thing about being a professional baseball player?
JR: Just living the dream to be a professional. When you grow up, you dream of playing baseball and working in this . Plus the learning experience is great, you learn a wealth of new things that you can never imagine.
DM: What is the hardest thing about being a pro athlete?
JR: The hardest part is how you can handle your personal issues that can impact you on the field since you play everyday. When things happen back home, or here, to you personally, it is something you try to avoid so it doesn't impact your game.
DM: Any pre-game routine?
JR: I do my active warm ups and take care of my body. I have my own routine in the cage.
DM: Any hobbies?
JR: Listen to music and play video games.
DM: Favorite baseball team growing up?
JR: Boston Red Sox.
DM: Where are you originally from?
JR: Mao, Dominican Republic.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
JR: Just only two people. My dad and my coach back home when I started playing baseball..
DM: Craziest thing you have ever seen on a baseball field?
JR: When I was playing Little League, one player hit a home run, but he ran the bases the opposite way..
DM: Any off-season plans?
JR: Working my body check. Try to gain muscles on my body and gain some strength.
DM: I want to thank you for your time and the best of luck to you and you career.
JR: Thank you.