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Dereck Rodríguez Returns to Twins, Adds Pitching Depth


Dereck Rodríguez will always draw ties to his Hall of Fame father, Ivan, but he has made his own professional path. Now, the Twins have re-signed Rodríguez and brought him back to the organization that drafted him.

Minnesota selected Rodríguez with a sixth-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of high school in Florida. At the time, the organization drafted him as an outfielder, and that’s where he started his professional career. From 2011-2013, he played regularly as an outfielder in the rookie leagues while hitting .216/.279/.336 (.615) in 129 games. Rodríguez was a good athlete with a big arm, so the organization shifted him to the mound.

He spent all of 2014 with Elizabethton and posted a 1.05 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP. All of his appearances were from the bullpen, and he combined for a 19 to 8 strikeout to walk ratio in 25 2/3 innings. During the 2015 seasons, he pitched as a starter at three different levels and reached High-A by posting a 3.35 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 75 1/3 innings. Over the next two seasons, he continued to move up the ladder and finished the 2017 season at the Double-A level. Rodríguez was making improvements, but now another team took notice. 

Because he started his pro career as an outfielder, Minnesota lost organizational control of Rodríguez following the 2017 season. He quickly signed with the San Francisco Giants as a minor league free agent. He began the next season at Triple-A, where he posted a 3.40 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with 53 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings over nine starts before making his big-league debut. 


His rookie campaign made it look like the Twins made a mistake in their evaluation process. He posted a 2.81 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with 89 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings over 19 starts. While his numbers looked great on the surface, some outlying numbers pointed to a potential decline. He struck out fewer than seven batters per nine innings and posted a 3.73 FIP. 

Rodríguez saw his big-league numbers decline over the next two seasons. He began the 2019 season in the Giant rotation and struggled with an ERA north of 5.00 in eight starts. In late May, he returned to the majors as a reliever, and he’d filled that role for the remainder of the season. As a reliever at the big-league level, he has pitched 31 innings and posted a 6.39 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. Even though he was still under team control through 2024, San Francisco parted ways with him following the 2020 campaign.  

Last season, Rodríguez pitched the entire season as a starter at the Triple-A level in the Rockies organization. In 85 2/3 innings, he posted a 6.72 ERA and 1.66 WHIP with an 87 to 30 strikeout to walk ratio. These numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but Rodríguez has a reputation as a hard worker and a good teammate. Minnesota will likely extend him a non-roster invite for spring training, especially with questions surrounding the team’s pitching staff in 2022. 

What are your thoughts on the Rodríguez signing? Do you think he can impact the 2022 Twins?

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He chose not to stay with the Twins organization, who actually needed another year to look at him as a pitcher before assigning him a 40-man spot. But, if you think back, he maybe saw himself blocked and decided to go elsewhere. As a minor league free agent, you have the choice to grab a contract elsewhere, which might pay you more than you were going to make staying in an organization.

 

A low cost investment, although I'm starting to see ALL the rotation spots already filled up at both AAA and AA ball (barring in juries) for next season, with everyone needing toi push their inning total. Of course, he may be a better gamble than, say, Andrew Albers for a looksee. But unless he can transform into a long relief arm, I don't see him getting anywhere with the Twins.

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Full confession, I had completely forgotten about him when I read about his signing today. After reading this, it all came back to me. And yes, when he left it looked like the Twins may have made a mistake. But baseball is a beautiful mistress who can be cruel at times and it now looks like the Twins were right at the time. (This happens all across baseball, not just in regard to the Twins). So when someone signs elsewhere, or is rule 5 selected, we have to see how things transpire down the road vs 1yr before we make any sort of "mistake" decision.

I see him as nothing more than a depth signing at this point. Just like the ML team, the Saints will have injuries and promotions and will need arms. I just have to believe he's a pen option at this point where his stuff might play up in shorter stints.

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I am a little surprised he signed with a pitching rich MiLB system.  Hopefully he is just looking to be a pen arm because I honestly don't see a spot for him as a starter.  Or maybe he likes the new analytically minded Twins and see's this an opportunity to find something to make him even better and parlay that into something bigger?  Hard to say but a pretty large gamble here by a pitcher I was excited about before he left.

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The Twins have always been very loyal to former minor league players and sometimes give them a second chance even if it is highly unlikely that it will work out. I think that is probably what is going on here unless he has developed a new pitch, or made some other kind of improvement that caught their eye.  Then again maybe they see a coaching future for him.

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Big fan of Dereck. I'm personally excited to see him back. I know he's struggled the last couple of years after that breakout 2018 season. 

The Twins, if I recall conversations, actually offered him a little bit more than the Giants, but he felt he had a better opportunity with the Giants, and he was right. The Twins definitely wanted him to stay around, to get another year to evaluate. 

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As the rotation currently stands, there's only Bundy, Ryan, and Ober as surefire MLB players. While we'll be signing more guys, he's got a shot to be the first callup to the rotation if we get injuries before the prospects are ready to step in. He's got an opportunity, it's all right in front of him, and I'm hyped to see him try to take it.

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19 minutes ago, Connor Gould said:

As the rotation currently stands, there's only Bundy, Ryan, and Ober as surefire MLB players. While we'll be signing more guys, he's got a shot to be the first callup to the rotation if we get injuries before the prospects are ready to step in. He's got an opportunity, it's all right in front of him, and I'm hyped to see him try to take it.

That is some surefire optimism. The only one I have high hopes for is Ryan. Good luck to Rodriquez. 

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8 hours ago, h2oface said:

That is some surefire optimism. The only one I have high hopes for is Ryan. Good luck to Rodriquez. 

I think Rodriquez agrees with h2o.......he sees a team that needs 5-6 additional starters at some point over the next 9 months instead of 2-3 on other major league teams.

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I see the FO/Twins doing what was done in Cleveland with pitching: Get a bunch of guys and get them to compete and see who ascends to the next level.  

All these young pitchers have talent.  It is now up to the organization to enable the ascension. 

I think Rodriguez is like the others but with a bit of experience.

I am leery of saying that Ober and Ryan are sure-fire rotation pieces.  Both had a decent year last year; neither pitched that many innings. Both Ryan and Ober haven't gone much past 100 innings pitched in any year. 

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