Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #26 Ronny Rodriguez

Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #26 Ronny Rodriguez

Coming in at number 26 on our Cleveland Indians Top 30 Prospect countdown is the athletic and versatile infielder Ronny Rodriguez.

Who is Ronny Rodriguez?

Rodriguez was signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent back in 2010 out of the Dominican Republic.  A natural shortstop, the six-foot, 170 pounder has also seen time at second base, third base and first base in his five years with the Cleveland Indians.  He bats from the right side and will turn 24 this April.  At one time a top ten prospect according to Baseball America, he’s dropped significantly though still shows enough athleticism and versatility to crack our Top 30 Prospect list.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of Rodriguez’s biggest strengths is his athleticism. He’s a natural shortstop with above average defense there and has shown the ability to move all over the diamond, handling the other three infield positions very well.  There’s also some rumblings that he could manage the outfield if the need arises and I see no reason to think he couldn’t be above average there as well, even in centerfield.

More from Away Back Gone

Offensively he doesn’t really do any one thing particularly well, but he has shown the ability to steal double-digit bases and shown 15-20 HR power at times in the minors.  He has very quick hands, which helps him generate some deceptive pop despite his smaller size. He hit 19 home runs back in 2012 and then hit 11 in just 72 games this past season for Double-A Akron, which explains his .204 ISO (isolated power).

2015 also marked a stark rebound for Rodriguez has he posted a robust 129 wRC+ (weighted runs created) for the Rubberducks while also hitting .286.  Unfortunately though Rodriguez missed several months last season after breaking his hamate bone in his left wrist just before the season began.  He didn’t make his season debut until June, but he sure seemed to make up for lost time. Despite getting only 285 plate appearances he finished second on the team in home runs, just one behind leader Anthony Gallas (who had nearly 100 more plate appearances). His .806 OPS ranked top 20 in the Eastern League as well.

One area where Rodriguez still really struggles is getting on base. He did manage to hit .286 in 2015; however, a mere 3.5% walk-rate kept his on-base percentage at just .316. In fact, only once in his five professional seasons has he produced a walk-rate over 4% (2014).  If he doesn’t begin to show some better plate discipline he’ll never make it as a big league starter.

Where Does He Go From Here?

It remains to be seen where Rodriguez will open 2016 at. He’s spent the last three seasons at Double-A and given how well he looked last year (granted in only half a season), one would think he’d be in line to make his Triple-A debut at the outset of the 2016 season. However, with guys like Giovanny Urshela and Zach Walters likely opening in Triple-A, infield and utility at-bats could be hard to come by.  Even veteran non-roster invitee Michael Martinez could end up with the Clippers.

Next: Indians Top Prospects: #27 Giovanni Soto

Given this, I expect to see Rodriguez back in Double-A, at least to begin the season. He can get looks at a multitude of positions and if his bat picks up where it left off last season, he could be line with a call-up to Triple-A sometime in the first half.  While Ronny Rodriguez is no longer the top ten prospect many thought he heading into the 2013 season, he’s still intriguing, athletic option for the Tribe. Yet another above average defender at shortstop with the ability to play several positions. It’s not a stretch to think he could still develop into a Mike Aviles type player, capable of starting in a pinch due to defense and some pop, but also capable of filling multiple bench roles.