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Eddy Rodriguez (rodried04)

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Eddy Rodriguez

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[edit] Biographical Information

Catcher Eddy Rodriguez hit a home run in his first major league at-bat.

[edit] Amateur Career

It took him quite some time to become an instant success, however. He was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round of the 2006 amateur draft, out of the University of Miami. His family had defected to Florida from their hometown of Villa Clara, Cuba, when he was still a boy. He had hit .284 as a high school junior and .250 as a senior. As a college freshman, he was 7 for 29 with 7 walks and 2 doubles, backing up Adam Ricks. He appeared in one game in the 2004 College World Series, going 1 for 2 with a run and a RBI off the bench.

With Ricks entering pro ball, Rodriguez became the Hurricanes' starting backstop and hit a solid .320/.377/.541. Eddy batted .313/.390/.517 with 9 home runs and 37 runs in 60 games. He threw out 39% of attempted base-stealers. He was named All-Atlantic Coast Conference at catcher and was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, losing out to Jake Smith. Among his teammates at Miami were Ryan Braun, Yonder Alonso and Blake Tekotte.

[edit] Reds chain

After signing with the Reds, he would spend 7 seasons in the minor leagues before getting a chance to make his big league debut. A low average hitter with good power, Rodriguez started off his career on a relative fast track, as he reached AA at age 22. He was 4 for 17 with two doubles, a homer and a walk for the 2006 GCL Reds. In 2007, he batted .236/.285/.354 for the Dayton Dragons and threw out 45% of attempted base-stealers. He led Midwest League catchers in assists (84) and tied for the best rate of throwing out runners.

He ended 2008 with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League, hitting .240/.321/.520 with 2 homers in 7 games at age 22. However, prior to his promotion, he had hit only .201/.255/.297 with 11 errors to 20 RBI in 70 games for the Sarasota Reds, and was released by Cincinnati prior to the 2009 season.

[edit] Independent Leagues

Eddy then spent two seasons playing in the independent American Association, first with the El Paso Diablos in 2009, then with the Sioux Falls Pheasants in 2010. He hit .264/.325/.403 with 17 errors in 84 games at El Paso, then .259/.305/.4 with 20 doubles and 13 homers in games with Sioux Falls.

[edit] Padres chain

However, he managed to catch the eye of scouts from the San Diego Padres' organization, and in 2011 was back in Organized Baseball. He played at three levels that year, not in any logical order, but rather being sent to various locales where a back-up catcher was needed. Thus, his first games were with the AAA Tucson Padres, then he was down to the Class A Lake Elsinore Storm, and also spent some time as a back-up in AA with the San Antonio Missions. In Lake Elsinore, he hit a solid .272/.329/.487 with 10 doubles and 8 homers in 46 games. In San Antonio, he hit .209/.264/.299 in 18 games, and in Tucson, he went 3 for 19 with a home run and two walks in 6 games. That was a season typical of an organizational soldier and not of a big league prospect, but his fortunes would soon change.

In 2012, the Padres decided to make Eddy the full-time starter in Lake Elsinore. He got to play 87 games, and while he hit only .223, he hit 13 doubles and 13 homers, continuing to show good power. That gave him a .381 slugging percentage but his OBP was a pitiful .269. He had also fanned in 100 of 328 at-bats. When Padres starting catcher Yasmani Grandal (a fellow Cuban native) went on the disabled list in early August, they decided to call up Eddy, counting on his professional experience to help him in spite of his lack of playing time above Class A.

For Rodriguez, he was replacing a good friend, Grandal having grown up with him around Miami, FL and succeeded him as the starting catcher for the University of Miami. In his first game on August 2nd, he afced another friend, Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, a former teammate in the Cincinnati organization. In his first at bat of the game, Eddy hit a slider over the left center-field wall, for the first homer allowed by Cueto since May 5th. He finished the game 1 for 3 with a walk.

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