TCN 2013 Cards Prospect 17: Starlin Rodriguez

Despite the long shadow of Kolten Wong, the Dominican second baseman had a solid 2012 at Palm Beach.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
27 2B 12/31/1989 5-10 168 R R 2009 FA

Home: San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic

Selected 2012 stats

PB 0.300 0.360 430 66 129 25 8 48 37 90 16 0.373 0.373 0.442 0.815

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (19): Rodriguez really emerged as a prospect in 2012. While already known to those who watch the Cardinals system closely (he was ranked #27 by last year), in 2012 he started to get more recognition from other prospect raters as well as other types of recognition such as being a Florida State League all-star.

His stats were not significantly better in 2012 though. In fact his overall numbers at Palm Beach were similar to what he did there in a half-season last year. However, one more year of consistent play combined with an increased walk rate was enough to open peoples' eyes. Another area of improvement for Rodriguez was his stolen base rate. It increased in 2012 even though it was still mediocre (61%) for a player with as much natural speed as he possesses.

Rodriguez undoubtedly starts 2013 at Double-A Springfield. It has been suggested by some on the internet that since there are several middle infield prospects ranked higher than Rodriguez and closer to the majors that he be tried in centerfield to take advantage of his speed and possibly be less blocked by other prospects. It remains to be seen if this happens.

Message board community (13): Rodriguez came in at #13 among community voters, after posting a fine line of .300/.373/.442 in his return to Palm Beach. Best guess is that if Kolten Wong had not been in Springfield, then Rodriguez would have been promoted at some point in 2012.

A bit undersized at 5-foot-10 and 168 pounds, Starlin is considered a solid keystone defender, but apparently not a plausible conversion-to-shortstop candidate, as he has never played an inning there as a pro. Though he has never shown much patience at the dish, Rodriguez did increase his walk rate in his return to high-A, and has always been willing to "take one for the team," as evidenced by 36 career hit-by-pitches in just 910 total at-bats.

If Wong stumbles and Greg Garcia turns out to be a legit defensive shortstop, there may well be a starting spot in the majors for Rodriguez at some point - particularly if he can maintain his medium-power (30% of his hits went for extra bases in 2012). -BobReed

Brian Walton (23): Rodriguez had a fine summer at Palm Beach in 2012, but he had also spent the second half of 2011 at the same level. At the age of 23 this coming season, it would have been ideal for him to have moved up to Springfield in the second half of 2012. However, not only was there that Wong fellow ahead of him, so was Wong's partner, Greg Garcia, also better suited for second base.

Palm Beach manager Johnny Rodriguez (no relation) took the initiative to expose Starlin to the outfield last summer to help increase the Dominican's versatility. Still, unless he could handle the move to center, it seems a sideline rather than a primary path.

Speaking of paths, on the basepaths, despite decent speed, Rodriguez has only been so-so. He has not shown great success in stealing bases, with a 59 percent success rate over the last two seasons.

My ranking indicates a bit more caution than the others about Rodriguez. One scout with whom I spoke is concerned with holes in Rodriguez' swing that may be further exploited as he moves up and out of A-ball. As noted above, patience at the plate has never been Starlin's calling card and his .360 BABIP this season seems unsustainable. Once a switch-hitter and still listed that way on most sites except this one, Rodriguez has been hitting exclusively right-handed.

We should know a lot more about Rodriguez' ceiling in the next 12 months.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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