I'll be the first to admit that I completely overlooked Rodriguez when I wrote that Brodie Greene could end up being Brandon Phillips' replacement should he not return for the 2013 season. Had Rodriguez read that line, he might slap me silly.
Rodriguez came to the Reds in 2007, left for the Diamondbacks in 2008 and returned to the Reds in the same year (correct me if i have that wrong, his career path is pretty confusing). But in any event, Rodriguez came to the Reds at 17 years old and is now 22.
With five minor league seasons (two full seasons) under his belt, Henry Rodriguez should be looking to make the jump to the majors in the next few seasons and this is why.
Rodriguez hasn't hit under .300 in the minors since his first season when he was just 17 years old. The last two years Rodriguez has worked between A, A+ and AA ball and has hit .305 in 2010 and .320 in 2011.
Not only can Rodriguez hit for a high average, he's shown good power the last two seasons for a man who stands in at 5'10"150-pounds. In 2010 Rodriguez hit 14 HR and in 2011 he belted 13.
What makes Rodriguez an even more intriguing prospect is his blend of speed and power. Much like Brodie Greene, and even Brandon Phillips, Rodriguez has shown that he can knock the ball out of the park and wreak havoc on the base paths. In 2010 Rodriguez swiped 33 bases and in 2011 he swiped another 30.
The past two seasons complete stat lines look like this:
2010: .305/.333/.463 14 HR, 82 RBI, 78 runs scored with 33 stolen bases
2011: .320/.372/.469 13 HR, 81 RBI, 76 runs scored with 30 stolen bases
In those two seasons Rodriguez was 20 and 21 years old. Rodriguez has an oddly complete offensive game for a man who just recently turned 22.
Another reason Rodriguez should make the jump to the bigs before too long is that he's a switch hitter. Switch hitting middle infielders are pretty rare and one with Rodriguez' blend of speed and power are even more rare.
I only have three points of criticism when I look at Rodriguez and the first is his fielding.
In the last two seasons Rodriguez has posted fielding percentages of .972 and .964 at second base. Those aren't really acceptable numbers but those are 20 and 21 year old seasons so I'm hopeful (as we all should be) that he will improve with age.
My second point of criticism is his bat speed from the left side of the field. Rodriguez has a very easy swing which may work for him but when you face guys throwing in the mid to upper 90s you need a quick bat.
My final point of criticism is in his free swinging nature. You're going to go look at his stats and think I'm crazy because his strikeout totals are low. This is true, his strikeout totals are low over the last two years he's played 257 games, made 1137 plate appearances and has struck out just 152 times. He's striking out in just over 13 percent of his plate appearances which is quite low.
Who's the most likely replacement for Brandon Phillips?
If you watch video of Rodriguez though he tends to put himself in early holes by swinging at pitches well out of the zone. I don't know whether he lacks discipline or the ability to differentiate between fastballs and off-speed pitches but he will need to improve on his pitch selection as he really doesn't walk much (61 walks in those 1137 plate appearances).
In any event, these are things that improve greatly as a player matures. At 22 years old, Rodriguez might have one of the brightest futures of any prospect in the Reds minor league system. After recently being sent to AA Pensacola from Reds' spring training, he will likely complement Didi Gregorius in the middle of the Blue Wahoo's infield.
A year or two from now we could very well be contemplating the possibilities of Rodriguez starting for the Reds should Brandon Phillips leave Cincinnati.
All the stats I use in these articles are pulled from Baseball-Reference. They run a great website over there so be sure to go check them out!
Be sure to check out my other articles on young Reds prospects: