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Twins Daily 2022 Short-Season Hitter of the Year: Jose Rodriguez


Twins Daily Contributor

During a short season, it can be challenging for hitters to separate themselves from other players at their level. In one of this season's closest voting results, each of the top three candidates was considered for the Twins Daily Short-Season Hitter of the Year.

Image courtesy of Instagram (graphics by Thieres Rabelo)

Minnesota signed Jose Rodriguez as part of the 2022 international signing period. At the time, the Twins were signing other players for higher signing bonuses, which may have helped Rodriguez fly under the radar. As a 17-year-old, Minnesota had him spend the entire season in the Dominican Summer League, where he showed why he might be a prospect to keep an eye on in the years to come. 

The DSL Twins started their season in June, and Rodriguez slowly started to see his bat warm up. In his first 18 games, he went 17-for-61 (.279 BA) with three doubles, two triples, and two home runs. For the month, he had three games with three or more hits. It was an impressive start to the season, especially since he faced older pitchers in all but 12 of his plate appearances this year.  

July was Rodriguez's most impressive month as he hit .333/.414/.747 (1.161) with eight doubles, one triple, and seven home runs. He added on three stolen bases and a 19-to-10 strikeout to walk ratio. Rodriguez had a 14-game on-base streak that saw him go 22-for-52 (.423 BA) with 14 extra-base hits. 

In August, he posted a .919 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 15 games. To end the season on a strong note, Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI on August 18th. Ranking teenage prospects before they sign can be challenging for evaluators, but Rodriguez showed he might have been a steal from last year's signing class. 

Runner-Up: Ricardo Olivar, C/OF
Rookie League Stats (40 G): .349/.442/.605 (1.046), 12 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 23 RBI

Olivar has a unique skill set as the Twins use him as a catcher and an outfielder. His bat is so good that there is no wonder the team wants him in the lineup as much as possible. Last season, he struggled in his professional debut with a .686 OPS in 34 games for the FCL Twins. In July and August this season, he combined to hit .344/.446/.677 (1.123) with 18 extra-base hits in 27 games. His performance earned him a September promotion to Fort Myers, where he played three games, including a 2-for-4 effort in his final appearance. 

Second Runner-Up: Yasser Mercedes, OF
DSL Stats (41 G): .355/.421/.555 (.975), 13 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 30 SB

Mercedes ranked as one of the best international prospects in this year's signing class, and he showcased all of his tools in his professional debut. He hit for average and power, played terrific outfield defense, and stole 30 bases in 41 games. Mercedes had multiple hits in 16 games, and he saw his OPS increase each month of the season. He's one of the team's top prospects, and he should rise on prospect rankings this winter based on his professional debut. 

Honorable Mentions:
Rafael Cruz, 1B/3B (FCL/DSL): .297/.398/.558 (.956), 8 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR

Cruz saw his OPS jump over 370 points in his second professional season. 

Alexander Pena, 1B/3B (FCL): .317/.374/.537 (.910), 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR
Pena repeated the FCL as a 20-year-old but saw a significant increase in his power production this season. 

Bryan Acuna, SS (DSL): .310/.409/.393 (.803) 12 2B, 0 HR, 9 SB, 20 BB
Acuna showed he can hit for average and draw walks, and his power will develop as he adds to his frame. 

Anderson Nova, OF (DSL): .355/.465/.476 (.932) 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR
Nova drew 21 walks in 40 games to help boost his OBP, which is good to see from a 17-year-old. 

Which players will most likely impact the Twins down the road? Who would you vote as the short-season hitter of the year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

PREVIOUS WINNERS:
2016 - Lewin Diaz
2017 - Akil Baddoo
2018 - Chris Williams
2019 - Matt Wallner
2021 - Kala’i Rosario


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The 2022 international class looks absolutely amazing right now.

Yasser Mercedes, José Rodríguez, Bryan Acuña, Anderson Nova and Harold Grant who wasn't even mentioned in this article. That's five players who look like they could become legit prospects!

Obviously it remains to be seen if those guys can translate their success to the US. But no one could have asked for a better start, that's for sure. 

I wonder if the Twins will allow some of them to skip the FCL and immediately start playing in Low A next spring? Provided they look the part, of course. 

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36 minutes ago, Sielk said:

I wonder if the Twins will allow some of them to skip the FCL and immediately start playing in Low A next spring? Provided they look the part, of course. 

They usually like the teenagers to attend high school until the FCL starts rather than playing A-ball.

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Rodriquez posted an overall line of .290/.361/.605 OPS .966 with a .315 ISO including quite a few doubles. His walk and strike out rates were 9.6% BB, 23.7% K, but I'm not sure what to make of it for the DOSL and a kid who was still just 16 at the beginning of June. 

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Twins Daily Contributor
2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

@Cody Christie the link for Jose Rodriquez in the article goes to the wrong Jose Rodriguez :) It took a couple searches, but here's the correct link .

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=rodrig106jos

Thanks. I’ll let the editors know.

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2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

@Cody Christie the link for Jose Rodriquez in the article goes to the wrong Jose Rodriguez :) It took a couple searches, but here's the correct link .

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=rodrig106jos

I have corrected this... The BRef links are done with an automated process that typically amazes me with how it's able to distinguish between players with the same names... but they got this one wrong. Thanks for pointing this out!! 

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2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Rodriquez posted an overall line of .290/.361/.605 OPS .966 with a .315 ISO including quite a few doubles. His walk and strike out rates were 9.6% BB, 23.7% K, but I'm not sure what to make of it for the DOSL and a kid who was still just 16 at the beginning of June. 

I think it's incredibly impressive. He's very young, but there are several 18-20 year olds in this league still, so yeah... It'll be good to hopefully see him in the FCL next season. The K and BB numbers are good. But it's the power numbers that are amazing. 

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5 hours ago, FlyingFinn said:

I am a huge Yasser Mercedes fan. The 30 SB in a short season combined with his great defense and good batting #'s, including power, makes him my pick.

Any word on the defense for Rodriguez and Olivar?

Mercedes was my #1 (with Rodriguez #2) because of the speed numbers to go with the power. 

I can't tell you a lot about the defense of those others. 

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Recall checking the DSL box scores regularly over the summer.  In the year's I have been following them, don't recall any season with as many hitters batting over .300 as most games had 6 or 7 hitting .300 something.  Heck, seems like the typical year would have only one or even none.  Don't know what that means.  Is this a phenomenal group?  Or was it a really bad year for pitching in the DSL?  But sure is fun seeing this many guys have great summers with their bats.

I really liked Acuna, who didn't turn 17 until mid-August.  Got off to a terrible start, hitting .077 in June, before hitting over .350 the rest of the summer. Also interesting that he walked nearly as often as striking out.  Not saying he should have replaced Rodriguez as he didn't have his speed or power, just really liked his potential.

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