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  • Emmanuel Rodriguez Looks Like Minnesota's Big-Bat Prospect


    Cody Christie

    Plenty of big bats can help the Twins in 2023, but Minnesota's best-hitting prospect is likely a few years away from Target Field. Let's explore Emmanuel Rodriguez and his professional career so far.

    Image courtesy of William Parmeter- Mighty Mussels

    Rightfully, Royce Lewis and Brooks Lee get much of the Twins organization's focus. An argument can be made for either player being the team's top prospect, but both may graduate off prospect lists by next offseason. Enter Emmanuel Rodriguez and a bat that might have the power to change the Twins organization. 

    Rodriguez was considered one of the top available international prospects during the 2019-20 international signing period. Minnesota signed him for $2.75 million, but it took some time for the organization to know what they had in Rodriguez. During the 2019 and 2020 seasons, he participated in fall instructional leagues while dealing with a hand injury. His professional debut came in 2021, and he quickly made an impact. 

    Many international prospects get their start in foreign summer leagues, but Rodriguez made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League. As an 18-year-old, he hit .214/.346/.524 (.870), including ten home runs in 37 games. After striking out 56 times in 126 at-bats, Minnesota worked to adjust his swing by keeping the bat in the zone longer so he could make consistent contact. These adjustments were evident during the 2022 season as he made his full-season debut. 

    The 2022 campaign was a breakout season for Rodriguez. In 47 games, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 17 extra-base hits and more walks (57) than strikeouts (52). He went 11-for-16 in stolen base attempts and made the majority of his defensive appearances in center field. His numbers were even more impressive considering he was a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. Only three of his at-bats came against younger pitchers. Unfortunately, his season ended in June after he tore his meniscus, which required surgery. It was a tough way for his season to end, but his ceiling continues to be among the highest in the Twins organization. 

    Rodriguez had surgery in mid-June, and expectations were that he would follow that with 3-4 months of rehab. This timetable should put him on a path to easily be ready for the start of spring training in 2023. Minnesota's coaches worked to improve his swing, which impacted his breakout season, and now his rehab may allow him to continue making adjustments. He's very good at hitting the ball in the zone but has shown a tendency to chase pitches out of the zone. The injury may also give him time to add more muscle, giving him more power as he climbs the organizational ladder. 

    Defensively, some question whether or not Rodriguez will be able to stick as a center fielder. Minnesota will continue to use him in center in the coming years, but he started four games in right field last season. His arm might be his best tool at this point, and that will play from any outfield position. As he returns from a knee injury, it will be interesting to see if his speed is impacted, especially if he has added more muscle to his frame. 

    Rodriguez is a player that fans can get excited about, but he likely will make his debut in 2024 or later. There are a lot of steps left for him to climb, and some prospects can struggle in the minors' upper levels. For now, his ceiling is one of the highest in the organization as the Twins watch his big bat continue to develop. 

    What are your expectations for Rodriguez? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    52 minutes ago, gman said:

    Seems like they could move him to Cedar Rapids pretty quick next year if not start him there. He seemed to hit pretty well in Ft Myers, which  a lot of players have problems with. Possibly see him on the Wichita roster by the end of next year?

    This would be the route a star takes. In AA at age 20 meaning he's got a shot at the bigs at 21. If that's not how it plays out it's not all doom and gloom, but that'd be the path an elite player takes. And we know the Twins could use more of those.

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    If his speed remains and his defense improves, he could push Buxton to right or left field, which would be good! He has power and speed. If he can stop chasing certain pitches, he will be a "force."

     

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    12 hours ago, Rosterman said:

    If his speed remains and his defense improves, he could push Buxton to right or left field, which would be good! He has power and speed. If he can stop chasing certain pitches, he will be a "force."

     

    I think this is very unlikely. Buxton only gets moved off CF if his own speed drops, and it seems unlikely that E-Rod's own speed and defense will be significant enough to demand that he plays in CF. Frankly, he's more likely to move into the corners himself as he fills out.

    His ability to succeed as he rises through the minors will depend on how well he can lay off pitches out of the zone and not chase. His power and contact skills are impressive, but when you hit AA guys can start dropping in sliders that start in the zone and drop off the corner much more consistently and fastballs vanish from the heart of the plate on a consistent basis.

    He's got huge talent, looking forward to seeing his season and hoping he has a healthy recovery.

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    It will be interesting to see how high he jumps in prospect lists.  He looked like he was set to fly up the list and make his way to AA before his injury.  Twins have some good hitting prospects coming up, as long as they can translate to MLB and play some defense we will not have a lot of holes to fill. 

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    As a fantasy baseballer who owns 4 dynasty teams with deep minor league rosters, I am constantly mining data to identify guys who have broken out before they ever hit any sort of "list". I remember running my queries maybe in late May this year, and I was shocked to see Rodriguez at the top of my board. I knew who he was, but I don't follow the Twins minors specifically much closer than all the other organizations, so I was shocked at the numbers I was seeing. I flagged him for pickup/draft and I now own him everywhere.

    If he comes back from this injury and picks up where he left off, he's a potential top 10 guy by the end of next season. Lots happens between A ball and MLB, but he's one to be excited about for sure.

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    It's alot of fun to put high expectations on a young player, but I think it would be more prudent to let him go through the proper steps.  Let his production dictate how fast he moves up the ladder.  Pushing too hard can delay the progress and damage his confidence.  Sure,  I'd love to see him progress quickly, but as young as he is, I don't think putting too much pressure on him is wise.  Let the prospect "develop".

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    I believe him swinging at so many out of the zone pitches means he’s not recognizing the pitch type. Either his eyesight or the speed of his cognitive ability is not up to the challenge. Torri Hunter may be the best comp for him. But I’d love to have another Hunter on the Twins.

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    On 11/20/2022 at 7:36 PM, mikelink45 said:

    I am always unreasonable.  So I will say - bring him up soon. Don't go through the sequence of levels.  If he is good challenge him. 

    Just like Billy    Bean, that worked so well.

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