Rodriguez Returns to Dayton

Yorman Rodriguez was atop the Reds' prospect list after they inked the then-16 year-old for $2.5 million in 09. It was a record signing bonus for a Venezuelan prospect. After hitting .339 at Billings in 2010 his status fell when injury cut his season short last year. After a slow start in Bakersfield he's now back at Dayton and is still the youngest player on their roster at 19.

Dayton scored four in the eighth but came up short in a 9-8 loss to visiting Bowling Green in the opener of their second half of the season. In his first game back with the Dragons Yorman Rodriguez led the offense by going 2-4 with a walk, home run and four RBI. Junior Arias, Juan Perez, and Ryan Wright also added two hits each. Dayton took a 3-1 lead in the first inning and led 4-3 before the Hot Rods went ahead with two in the sixth and added four more in the top of the eighth. On the mound Jacob Johnson got the start and allowed three runs (two earned) in four innings. Erik Miller was charged with two runs and the loss. Drew Stubbs made his first rehab start and went 0-2.

Rodriguez has been an intriguing prospect since the Reds inked the teenager with a $2.5 million signing bonus in 2009. At the time that was a record amount for a Venezuelan prospect. Coming into the 2011 season Baseball America rated him the #5 prospect in the Cincinnati organization. Those were very high regards considering the current major leaguers also on that list. A mediocre 2011 lowered his status coming into this year, but he's still a consensus top 20.

Rodriguez started his professional career in in 2009 when he played in the rookie leagues while still only sixteen years old. His lofty rating came after he returned to Billings the next season and hit .339. Last year at Dayton he hit .254 and popped seven homers in around 300 plate appearances before a shoulder injury ended his season. He started out this year at Bakersfield and made a strong statement that he belonged back in low-A. There's no shame in that because now he's still the youngest player on the Dragon roster.

The outfielder is listed at 6'2"/184# and bats/throws right-handed. He was billed as a five-tool talent with a tremendously high ceiling. As expected of anyone at that age he arrived in need of a lot of refinement for both his skills and emotions. His 2010 performance shows that he can hit for average, but he's still undisciplined at the plate. His overall strikeout frequency is more than four times his walks and he's fanned more than once every four plate appearances on average. Also, his power thus far has been mostly limited to batting practice. In the field he has the speed to play center, but his error frequency (1 per 9.5 games) has caused much of his action to be in right where he has plenty of arm.

Among the intangibles there are some unflattering opinions on the amount of effort he exerts on the field. That type of handicap will compromise the development of any player. He is now in his fourth minor league season and it's easy to forget that he's still only nineteen years old. Hopefully he'll leave some problems behind as he matures. Risk/reward is part of the game and with Rodriguez comes the highest risk/highest reward of any prospect in the Reds system.

In today's MLB world disadvantaged small market franchises have to commit to more creative means to stock their pipeline and it's no secret that tapping into foreign talent is a priority in the Reds strategic planning. Risk can be reduced by effective scouting and development, but never eliminated. No one gives out big contracts when they don't think the competition makes it necessary. The upside is there and the jury is still out on Cincinnati's decision to roll the dice on Yorman Rodriguez.

Other News from the Farm:

Louisville scored a run in the top of the thirteenth to win 4-3 at Pawtucket. Kristopher Negron led the way going 3-5 with a home run. Miguel Rojas added a couple of hit including his first homer as a Bat. Daryl Jones had only one hit but it plated Felix Perez for the game-winner. Pedro Villarreal turned in a quality start allowing three runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out seven. Donnie Joseph threw two scoreless innings of relief and picked up the win. Kanekoa Texeira finished the game for his first save. He now has a 0.75 ERA over fifteen appearances.

Pensacola scored the go-ahead run in the seventh before winning 4-2 at Chattanooga. Yordanys Perez went 3-5 with a double and scored the insurance run. Didi Gregorius was 2-3 with two walks and an RBI to raise his average back up to .290. The rest of the lineup top did their job with Ryan LaMarre and Brodie Greene adding two hits each. Starter Tony Cingrani allowed both runs before he was lifted in the fourth after 90 pitches. Five relievers combined for 5+ scoreless innings and Clayton Tanner was the pitcher of record. Justin Freeman retired the ninth in order for the save.

Bakersfield allowed six in the fourth in an 8-2 loss at Rancho Cucamonga. The Blaze managed only six hits. Jamie Walczak made his fourth start and allowed only one run in three innings despite allowing six hits. Chris Joyce started the fourth and was charged with six runs (four earned) and the loss.

Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:

Hamilton opened the game by manufacturing a run with his speed. After a bunt single he promptly stole second. He took third on a throw to first to complete a strikeout. After that a throw to the plate failed to get him on a fielder's choice. He led off the fifth with a walk but uncharacteristically did not steal before he was removed on a fielder's choice. He now has 83 steals in 68 games.

Billings rode a six run sixth inning to a 9-4 win at Helena. Robert Maddox homered twice while going 3-4 with a walk and three RBI. He's now batting .417 on the young season. Gabriel Rosa and Robert Ramirez added two hits each. Andrew Cisco got his first start and was limited to two innings over which he allowed one unearned run on two hits. He was relieved by Carlos Gonzalez who struck out four while retiring all six batters faced to earn him the win.

The AZL Reds had an off-day and will resume their schedule tonight at the AZL Dodgers. The DSL Reds scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to get a 5-4 win at the DSL Diamondbacks. Jairo Martinez allowed only one unearned run in 3+ innings of relief to pick up his third win.

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