2009 Cardinals Prospect #40 – Ryde Rodriguez

The intriguing 20-year-old Cuban outfielder with the chiseled build jumped up to Johnson City to close the season. Will be continue to progress and find his power in 2009? Our analysis of the first member of our Top 40 countdown is FREE.

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2008 and career stats)

2008 Ranking: Not ranked

Position: OF

DOB: 2/2/1988

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 230

Bats: Both

Throws: Right

School: Havana, Cuba

Became a Cardinal: Signed as an international free agent on 07/25/07.

Selected 2008 stats

GCL 0.329 143 19 47 9 0 0 28 8 32 7 0.374 0.392 0.766
JC 0.333 15 1 5 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0.412 0.400 0.812
Tot 0.329 158 20 52 10 0 0 29 9 33 7 0.378 0.392 0.770

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (39): Rodriguez was the first example of the Cardinals' willingness to pay out large bonuses to international players. With a physique that looks big league ready, there is a lot to like about the young Cuban's American debut. On a really bad Gulf Coast League team, the 20-year-old put together an All-Star season. In limited action at Johnson City, he proved his worth and possibly put himself in position to start 2009 in the Midwest League.

Touted as a five-tool talent, Rodriguez' power was non-existent in 2008. Of concern, he had only 10 extra base hits in 158 at bats, all of which were doubles. To be fair, he is still very young and this was his first season in the states.

Ray Mileur (34): The Cardinals demonstrated a lot of confidence in Rodriquez by signing the Cuban native as an international free agent for a reported bonus of $460,000. A $400,000+ bonus would suggest to me, that if Rodriguez had been drafted in the States, he would have been scouted and ranked to go early in the second round, which is the primary basis of my ranking him higher than the others in this poll.

In his first regular season as a professional, Rodriguez finished fourth in the GCL in batting average (.329) and tied for ninth in RBI (28). After 41 games in the GCL, he was promoted to Johnson City, where he closed out the season, going 5-for-15 (.333). Stock is rising.

Message board community (Not ranked): While Rodriguez had a few supporters among Community members for a top 40 ranking, overall his support for this high of a ranking was weak. Ryde put up a solid .329/.378/.392 line in the GCL and a brief stop at Rookie A ball Johnson City but in the end he was most likely a victim of unreasonably high expectations, a lack of power, and playing at a low level.

Rodriguez's developed body, acclaim as a five tool prospect , and (then) record signing bonus have made some wonder if he can live up to the high expectations. His lack of power and low stolen base totals this year have reinforced those doubts. I get the sense that most Community members still consider Rodriguez a legitimate prospect but would simply like him to show his abilities at a higher level before ranking him. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (Not ranked): Serving as the proverbial clean-up hitter in these reports means my goal is to avoid duplication with the other voters' comments. Ever since we first broke the news of the Cardinals' interest in Rodriguez almost two years ago, reports on the muscular outfielder have been mixed. After seeing Ryde play this spring and during Extended Spring Training, I remain unsure about him, hence him missing my personal top 40. He looks the part, but can he play it on a consistent basis?

Count Cardinals farm director Jeff Luhnow among Rodriguez' supporters. After the season, the VP told me this: "Ryde had a great year. He is the only guy who hit over .300 on that club (GCL). We moved him up and he continued to hit. We just have to find playing time for this guy. I think he is going to be a tremendous baseball player. His work ethic is certainly there, his body is there. We just need to challenge him."

Based on just 15 at-bats above the GCL means a 2009 start in full-season ball with Quad Cities of the Midwest League would be a substantial challenge for the 21-year-old-to-be. Yet it seems possible if Rodriguez brings his bat to Spring Training.

To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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