Rodriguez Keeps Swinging Hot Bat for Wahoos

Infielder Henry Rodriguez is moving up the list of top Cincinnati prospects. The 22 year-old has hit at every level to which he's been exposed. He is one of three interesting middle infielders that began this season at AA Pensacola.

Pensacola left the tying and go-ahead runs on base last night when the game ended in an 8-7 win for Jacksonville. The Suns won a third straight win at Blue Wahoos Park despite being outhit 13-7. The Game 5 finale is scheduled for tonight. The Wahoo hit barrage was led by shortstop Didi Gregorius who went 4-5. Ryan LaMarre, Brodie Greene, Henry Rodriguez, and P.J. Phillips all contributed two hits each. Greene and LaMarre hit their first home runs of the season and Joel Guzman tagged his second.

After moving some high profile prospects over the off season the Reds have no shortage of interesting middle infielders. Now that Devin Mesoraco is playing his rookie season with the Reds, the highest prospect ratings fall to shortstop Billy Hamilton at Bakersfield. Three other top infield prospects began the season at Pensacola after joining the team in Goodyear for spring training.

Henry Rodriguez, Didi Gregorius, and Brodie Greene anchor the left side of the Blue Wahoo infield, at least for right now. All three are candidates for promotion when a position opens up above them. Gregorius is currently swinging a hot bat that has him hitting .362. Meanwhile after a slow start Greene has raised his average to slightly below .300. Henry Rodriguez has been hitting the ball well all season just like he's done since his arrival into the Cincinnati organization.

Rodriguez started as a seventeen year old in the Venezuelan League before the Reds moved him to the Dominican Republic. Even though "you can't walk off the island", he showed that you can walk onto it. In Venezuela he had a .368 OB% while hitting only .254 and walking in 12% of his plate appearances. In his first full year in the Dominican he hit .316 and his plate discipline gave him a .388 OB%.

Mysteriously after Rodriguez left the island his walk frequency was reduced by 2/3. He still managed to hit .307 for Dayton in 2010 but his OB% was only .338. Some power was added to his game when he turned 20 with 14 HR and 78 RBI for the Dragons. Last season a .340 average at Bakersfield got him a midseason promotion to AA before he again hit .300 at the higher level. Oddly enough, the selectivity at the plate he showed as a teenager departed as he advanced up the system. He did lift his BB/PA frequency from 3.9% overall in 2010 to 6.9% last season. He's gotten only 2 free passes in 57 plate appearances thus far this season. That is very forgivable when you consider that the he's hit .333 and slugged close to .500 since opening day.

In the field most of Rodriguez's action was at second base before he was moved over to the hot corner this season. That was probably influenced by Greene's range, which would likely be at shortstop if not for the presence of Gregorius. Rodriguez does have the offensive numbers that would be adequate for the corner infield spot. He has a surprising amount of power considering his diminutive stature, listed at 5'10"/150#. He's only 22, so the switch hitter still has time to fill out his frame. He's hit everywhere he's been, including .350 in this year's Cactus League, and appears ready for the next level.

Other news on the farm:

Louisville was outslugged by Toledo 13-9 at Louisville Slugger Field. Neftali Soto had three hits and homered for the second consecutive game.

Bakersfield scored three in the eighth and held off the Rawhide for an 8-6 win at Visalia. The inning included an RBI triple by Billy Hamilton before he advanced home on a throw from catcher to first base after a strikeout. Hamilton, Donald Lutz, and Bryson Smith all had two hits for the Blaze while Yorman Rodriguez added three. Hamilton is now hitting .388 on the season.

Billy Hamilton Stolen Base Watch:

This season Hamilton will again try to steal 100 bases. Last season he was the first minor leaguer in over a decade to accomplish that feat. Last night he failed to steal a base as both of his hits went for extra bases. He still has eleven SB in as many games.

Dayton saw a four run lead cut to one before they added four in the seventh to win 9¬-4 at Ft. Wayne. Theo Bowe, Juan Perez, and Yovan Gonzalez all had multi-hit games. Catcher Gonzalez hit his second homer of the season and is currently on an 8-13 streak that has raised his average to .429.

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