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Top prospect countdown: #19 Jose Rodriguez

The second of several Rodriguez’s (Rodriguii?) featured in our countdown, Jose edges out Elvin (no relation) mostly due to the fact that he has a full season under his belt and features more than one pitch. Appearing for the first time at low-A Burlington, Rodriguez acquitted himself quite nicely, making 27 starts while holding a 3.14 ERA across 131.2 innings. Relying primarily on a fastball-changeup combination, the right-hander struck out 7.9 batters per nine innings while allowing 2.2 BB/9.

Despite averaging a hit allowed per inning, he held opponents to only 4 HR all year. Much of that weak contact likely came as a result of his trusted change-up, which comes in 10-15 MPH slower than his fastball. According to Angels’ prospect guru Taylor Blake Ward, he throws the change-up with the same arm speed as his fastball, helping play up his modest high-80’s heater. He mixes in a two-seamer, though his ground ball rate has decreased each of the last two seasons, so expect him to settle in as more of an off-speed/fly ball specialist. His breaking ball has been described as a bit slurvy, something he will have to refine as he moves up the minor league ladder.

Rodriguez earned mid-season All Star honors, following it up with an even stronger second half. With under-whelming stuff, he is going to rely heavily on his control of the strike zone and ability to change speeds if he hopes to eventually crack the Angels’ rotation. He seems likely to make the move to high-A Inland Empire this season, where the hitter’s haven that is the Cal League is sure to provide him with his biggest challenge to date.