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Emmanuel Rodriguez: A Star in the Making?


Twins Daily Contributor

While the Twins offense struggles, there's a 19-year-old Dominican tearing up the Florida State League. Who is Emmanuel Rodriguez? How did he end up with the Twins? What is his ceiling?

'Musica, bailar', Emmanuel Rodriguez answers, through interpreter (and Mighty Mussels hitting coach) Rayden Sierra, when asked by Twins Daily's @Seth Stohs how he likes to spend his time outside of baseball. 'Music, and dancing'. Rodriguez is 19, after all. Easy to forget after his impressive start in 2022. On Thursday, Seth chatted with the Mighty Mussels' prodigious outfielder on "Three Questions With..."

Emmanuel Rodriguez made Baseball America’s weekly Hot Sheet after hitting .360/.568/.880 through his first 25 plate appearances of the season.

Rodriguez has also managed ten runs, four home runs, 12 walks, and two steals to open 2022. One of Rodriguez’s four home runs traveled 439 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph. Not bad for a 19-year-old. So who is this teenage phenom? How did he end up with the Twins? What is his ceiling?

It’s often not talked about how reliant the current Twins lineup is on international signings. Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Gio Urshela, and Gary Sanchez were all signed as professionals via international free agency (although not all with the Twins). While the more famous free agent signings like Sano and Sanchez come with plenty of prestige and attention, others, such as Arraez, are virtually unheralded, making a monumental impact when considering their signing bonuses. 

Emmanuel Rodriguez falls between those two extremes. The Twins signed him for a $2.5 million bonus in 2019. The Dominican was their top target in a class that was led by Yankees Jasson Dominguez. According to most international prospect lists, his overall placement in free-agent rankings that season lay between 10th and 20th. "They were always there. They were always following up with him. The scouting department made him feel wanted and that meant a lot to him', translates Sierra, on how Rodriguez ended up with the Twins.

The 5’10, 200-pound left-handed hitter managed a 124 wRC+ and 10 HR in his professional debut in the Florida Complex League. While his .390 wOBA was impressive, Rodriguez's 36.6 K% was a clear area of focus ahead of 2022. The early returns are promising. At the time of writing, Rodriguez has increased his BB% from 15% in 2021 to 29% in 2022, cutting his K% to a more manageable 22%. In addition, Rodriguez has posted a scorching 252 wRC+. "I am working mostly on evening out my strikeout to walk ratio', says Rodriguez (through Sierra), after asking what his primary focus is in 2022, "that, and staying healthy." 

Entering the season, Rodriguez boasted 60-grade power, a 60-grade arm to go with 50-grade running and fielding. The question was his hit tool. Prior to 2022, Baseball America graded is at 45, citing his weakness in controlling the strike zone and an overly steep swing that resulted in too many strikeouts. Even with these concerns, they ranked him as the Twins' #10 overall prospect ahead of 2022, also giving him the superlative of best outfield arm in the system.

What’s so exciting in Rodriguez’s start is his age and the rapidity of his improvement. At 19, he has a ton of projectability as he fills out, grows, and continues to develop. Even now, he has some of the best bat speed in the Twins system, top to bottom. While his 2022 start could simply be a hot two-week stretch, it should be a huge reason for optimism. The sky is the limit for Rodriguez if he can continue to improve and make adjustments at the rate and with the competence he has thus far in his young career.

When asked what making the big leagues would mean to him, his answer is clear "It would be a dream come true," Rodriguez explains through Sierra. "I know for a fact it's something that would make my family incredibly proud."

There’s a long road ahead, but don't count Emmanuel Rodriguez out, it looks like he has star potential.


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Great article.  And, I really enjoy Seth's interviews with prospects.  This is one prospect who could rise quickly if he continues to show plate discipline.  There will be ups and downs this year as development is not linear, but he has the tools to get to Target Field quickly.  I see these kids at 19 dealing with the pressures of professional ball and I am amazed at how well many of them handle it, especially those kids coming to a new country and having to adjust to language issues, the culture change, etc.  I couldn't have done it at 19. 

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27 minutes ago, RJA said:

Great article.  And, I really enjoy Seth's interviews with prospects.  This is one prospect who could rise quickly if he continues to show plate discipline.  There will be ups and downs this year as development is not linear, but he has the tools to get to Target Field quickly.  I see these kids at 19 dealing with the pressures of professional ball and I am amazed at how well many of them handle it, especially those kids coming to a new country and having to adjust to language issues, the culture change, etc.  I couldn't have done it at 19. 

Ken Griffey was in the majors at 19. We can hope we have a quick riser

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I get that there are a few examples of players debuting as teenagers. It was obviously much more common 60 years ago when "bonus babies" had to be in the big leagues. It's much more impressive since Griffey 32 years ago. Definitely the exception. 

Rodriguez is exciting. His power is impressive. His athleticism is good. He started the season with 12 walks to 6 strikeouts. In 3 games this week, he's got 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. 

So, patience will be good. 

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I'm really happy about E Rod's hitting. When he was drafted, the feeling I got was he'd be a very good CF candidate so I thought he'd be the one who could fill Buxton spot when he'd move on. But looking at his speed & fielding grade at only 50 I'm having doubt that he'd stick there.

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Got the opportunity to meet him and spend some time with him while at spring training.  I came away very impressed as well.  Such a nice young man, always giving thanks to God.  He definitely is special and just really stood out on field and in the dugout amongst his peers.  I can say The Twins really do a good job transitioning these players to a new environment.  Not sure if there are teams that do it better than the staff down at Fort Myers.

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twins commitment to international signings is a really important part of their minor league talent development and pipeline. They've made some good investments there.

Rodriguez should be an interesting one to follow. He's got a lot of talent, and how we're able to refine that as an organization will be interesting. I'm looking forward to watching his progress in A-ball. If he's able to stick in CF with that arm and keep developing his hit tool, he's going be rise up the lists pretty fast. Looks like a fun player.

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2 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

twins commitment to international signings is a really important part of their minor league talent development and pipeline. They've made some good investments there.

Rodriguez should be an interesting one to follow. He's got a lot of talent, and how we're able to refine that as an organization will be interesting. I'm looking forward to watching his progress in A-ball. If he's able to stick in CF with that arm and keep developing his hit tool, he's going be rise up the lists pretty fast. Looks like a fun player.

I think it's a mixed bag. There are some who made the prospect list but stalled or went backwards. There are a lot of variables so I hope for the best. 

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7 hours ago, Old Twins Cap said:

5' 10" 210?  60 grade power?

A tall Joe Morgan?

I was thinking the next Kirby Puckett, but I'll "settle" for a Joe Morgan.  

Actually, lots of great power hitters weren't all that tall, headlined by Aaron, Mays, and Mantle....all under 6 ft.

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2 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

I think it's a mixed bag. There are some who made the prospect list but stalled or went backwards. There are a lot of variables so I hope for the best. 

I think it's always going to be a mixed bag, but we have to invest in it. They're essentially buying opportunities. Some are going to flame out, but regardless of how we feel about them today, guys like kepler and sano were worth the international investment. Rodriguez could be another one, or he might flame out, but more opportunity is good

 

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2 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

I think it's always going to be a mixed bag, but we have to invest in it. They're essentially buying opportunities. Some are going to flame out, but regardless of how we feel about them today, guys like kepler and sano were worth the international investment. Rodriguez could be another one, or he might flame out, but more opportunity is good

 

I do not disagree with what you say, but I am not convinced that the Twins are ahead of other teams.

 

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On 4/22/2022 at 3:09 PM, Road trip said:

I was thinking the next Kirby Puckett, but I'll "settle" for a Joe Morgan.  

Actually, lots of great power hitters weren't all that tall, headlined by Aaron, Mays, and Mantle....all under 6 ft.

This might be the wrong site to post this, but Joe Morgan > Kirby Puckett, and it isn't close.

Does that need to go under the "controversial baseball opinions:" article instead? 

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Oh, yeah, I totally understand that Morgan > Puckett.  The quotes were my attempt at sarcasm....should have found an emoji I guess.

If Rodriguez had 1/4 of the career of either Morgan or Puckett we will call it a win..

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