Prospect Profile: Fernando Rodney

Talk about a change of events. One year ago, Fernando Rodney was being annointed as the Tigers' closer, preparing to step up into a vital role in the bullpen despite minimal big league success. Unfortunately, elbow problems led to Tommy John surgery and ended his '04 season before it started. But now Rodney appears ready to compete once again, albeit not for the same role of a year ago.

Fernando Rodney
Position: Right Handed Pitcher Height: 5-11 Weight: 200
Born: 3/18/1977 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Background
Rodney was signed out of the Dominican following the 1997 season, when the Tigers thought he was a baby of only 16 years old. Then, as a result of "Age-Gate," the organization learned that he was born in 1977, rather than 1981. The change in age tarnished Rodney's star some, but he still remained highly touted as a result of his blazing fastball, and devastating change-up. Fernando is the quintessential hard-throwing reliever that has consistently dominated his minor league counterparts. With a career minor league line that includes a 2.52 ERA in 297 innings, with 291 strikeouts and a .219 career batting average against, he has accomplished nearly all he can at the minor league level. Rodney has become even more dominant as he has moved up the minor league ladder, topping it all with a 1.33 ERA and 23 saves with Toledo in 2003. After getting an extensive taste (30 IP) at the Major League level in 2003, Rodney was set to compete for the closers role in 2004 before an arm injury ended his season before it even began.

Scouting Report
Fernando Rodney consistently dials his fastball up to around 98 mph, and compliments this dominating pitch with an average slider, and top notch change-up. The difference in speed between his top two offerings is great enough that it can make him unhittable when his control is there. Without control, both his fastball and change are up in the zone, and he gets hit very hard. Rodney's fastball is fairly straight and because he is not very tall, comes at hitters on a very flat plane. Unless Rodney can hit the edges of the strike zone on a consistent basis, he will have a hard time being an effective Major League reliever. Overall, Rodney has all the tools to be the top-notch late inning reliever the Tigers have been hoping he would be, he just needs to master his control and translate his minor league success to the Big Show.

Performance

Year

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

2003

Toledo

1-1

1.33

38

0

23

58

13

40.2

0.86

2003

Detroit

1-3

6.07

27

0

3

33

17

29.2

1.75


Health Record
Fernando Rodney sat out the 2004 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery during the spring. All reports indicate his rehab is going well and he should be ready to pitch in spring training.

The Future
Rodney will get every shot to make the opening day bullpen out of spring training. If he is truly healthy, the odds are in his favor, and he could team with Troy Percival, Ugueth Urbina, and Kyle Farnsworth, to make one of the hardest throwing and most dominant collection of relievers in the American League. Rodney still has one option remaining and could begin the year with Toledo if he looks like he needs more polish after recovering from surgery. At 28, now is the time for Fernando to overcome his previous Major League struggles and make his mark in Detroit. Under the tutelage of Bob Cluck and Troy Percival he could be ready to take over as closer in the near future.


Tigs Town Top Stories