Sean John Rodriguez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.
- High School G. Holmes Braddock High School, Miami Coral Park High School
- Debut April 19, 2008
Sean Rodriguez hit .240/?/.280 with a team-leading four steals for the USA youth team that won the Gold in the 2001 World Youth Championship. Sean was the regular second baseman with Jeff Flaig at short.
Rodriguez was selected by the Anaheim Angels in the third round of the 2003 amateur draft. He had hit .413 as a high school senior and slugged .825; Baseball America picked him to their third team All-America high school team. Rodriguez was signed by scout Mike Silvestri and debuted with the AZL Angels the same year, hitting .269/.332/.380. He began 2004 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels (.250/.333/.393) and was demoted to the Provo Angels (.338/.486/.569) when the short-season leagues began play. He was the MVP of the Pioneer League, the All-Star shortstop, led the league in put-outs at short (123), errors (27) and double plays (52); on offense, he was hit by the most pitches (15), 10th in average and tied for 12th in homers. Provo won the title in large part thanks to Rodriguez.
Back in Cedar Rapids in 2005, Sean batted .250/.371/.422 with 29 doubles, 14 homers and 86 runs. Against left-handers, he only hit .206. Sean bounced back in 2006 with 291 total bases, the most in the minor leagues. He hit .301/.377/.545 for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes with 24 home runs and 15 steals in 18 tries. It was one year after a star turn by Rancho Cucamonga's prior shortstop, Brandon Wood. Promoted to the Arkansas Travelers, Sean batted .354/.462/.662 in 18 games, with 16 runs, and he briefly appeared in AAA for the Salt Lake Bees. Rodriguez finished 8th in the California League in average and made the league All-Star team at DH, though his 29 errors tied Skip Adams for the most by a shortstop in the loop. Baseball America rated him the #12 prospect in the league that year.
In 2007, Sean hit .254 with 17 homers and for 73 RBIs for Arkansas. He began 2008 with the Salt Lake Bees, hitting .333 with 4 home runs in 13 games before being called up by the Angels and making his big league debut on April 19th. Rodriguez batted 8th and played second base in his big league debut. His first at-bat came with two on and one out against Jarrod Washburn; Rodriguez grounded out to Adrian Beltre, advancing both runners. In the 6th, he lined a single to left off of Washburn for his first major league hit.
In 2009, he split time between the Salt Lake Bees and the Angels. On September 1st, Rodriguez was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays as the player to be named later in the Scott Kazmir trade. He did not play with the Rays that season, but in 2010 proved to be an excellent addition, playing 118 games shared between second base and various other positions, and hitting .251 with 9 homers and 40 RBI. He then went 2 for 10 in the Rays' loss to the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. In 2011, he played 131 games split between shortstop, second base an d third base, but his batting average fell to .223, with 8 homers and 36 RBI. He played in the postseason again that season, but was limited to 2 hits in 12 at-bats when the Rays were beaten again by the Rangers in the ALDS. His offense took another step backward in 2012, as he was hitting only .215 in 106 games on August 21st, when the Rays decided to send him down to AAA Durham to "work on some things" when Evan Longoria came off the disabled list. He had in effect lost the back-up infielder job to Elliot Johnson, and even though he was scheduled to re-join the team in a few days, he expressed his frustration at how things had gone by punching a locker a few days after being sent down, breaking a bone and ending his season.
After the locker-punching incident, Sean played a couple more seasons with the Rays, as a jack of all trades. In 2013, he hit .246 with 5 homers and 23 RBIs in 96 games, with his most common positions being left field and first base. He went 1 for 6 in the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox, hitting a home run off Jon Lester in the 2nd inning of Game 1 to start off on a good foot; however, the Rays quickly lost that early lead and were defeated 12-2, eventually being eliminated in four games. In 2014, second base was his most common position, but he also played first base, left field, third base and DH, getting into 96 games again. He showed the best power of his career, with 12 homers and 41 RBIs, but hit only .211 as the Rays missed the postseason. On December 1st, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later. He had been designated for assignment a few days earlier, to clear space on the roster for free agent pitcher Ernesto Frieri. On December 13th, the Pirates sent minor league pitcher Buddy Borden to Tampa to complete the deal.
Rodriguez was a busy man for the Pirates in 2015, even though he did not have a regular position. He played 139 games, the most he had played in a season thus far, including 102 at first base - but only 12 of them starts. he also saw time in left field, right field and at third base and hit .246 with 4 homers and 17 RBIs. He was mostly used as a late-game defensive replacement for 1B Pedro Alvarez, who had a very difficult season in the field. In the Wild Card Game against the Chicago Cubs on October 7th, he even started the game at first base, batting 8th, in an unusual strategic move. Manager Clint Hurdle expected the game to be low-scoring and wanted to lower the probability of having Alvarez make a crucial error in the early going. Thus, Sean played the first three innings, recording 4 putouts, before Alvarez pinch-hit for him when his turn to bat first came up in the 3rd inning. The Bucs still lost the game, 4-0, as they were muzzled by Jake Arrieta while Alvarez struck out all three times he came to bat. The Pirates were obviously satisfied with Rodriguez's contributions to the team, as on December 18th, they re-signed him for one year and $1.5 million. He followed up with another solid season in 2016 during which he hit .270 in 140 games, with 16 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBIs. His OPS+ of 126 was not only the highest of his carer, but the first time he had been above 100. He continued to be used in a utility role, playing 10 or more games at six different positions. He played 57 times at first base, but only started 5 times there, most of his appearances being as a late-game replacement for John Jaso; most of his starts were at shortstop and second base.
On November 26, 2016, it was reported that he had signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves for two years and $11.5 million, pending a physical exam. On January 28, 2017, he and his family were involved in a serious car crash in Miami, FL that involved a stolen police cruiser. That vehicle crashed into the van occupied by Sean, his wife Giselle, and two of their four children, and burst into flames upon impact. The driver of the stolen car was killed and Giselle had to be hospitalized with two broken bones in her leg. His two children, 7-year-old Sean Jr. and 2-year-old Zekiel also suffered significant injuries, including a franctured arm and orbital bone for the eldest. For his part Rodriguez suffered a shoulder injury which was not immediately disclosed. He had to undergo surgery in mid-February to repair a complete tear of his left rotator cuff, putting his season in jeopardy. The injury was one of the reasons motivating the Braves to acquire 2B Brandon Phillips from the Cincinnati Reds on February 13th.
Sources: 2002-2007 Baseball Almanacs