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Top prospects countdown: #21 Elvin Rodriguez

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MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A product of the Angels’ Dominican academy, Elvin Rodriguez made his stateside debut for their rookie league affiliate in 2016, going 2-2 with a 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings. Across two seasons in the Dominican and Arizona, he has made 22 starts and four relief appearances, holding a respectable 2.95 ERA over 109.2 IP. Very much a raw talent, Rodriguez has surprisingly good command, walking only 2.7 batters per nine innings in his career.

He sports a low-90’s fastball with solid movement, getting 57% of his outs via the groundball and allowing only three HR across two levels in 2016. He allowed a very stingy 4.9 H/9, resulting in an excellent 0.784 WHIP. Expect both those numbers to climb as he sees more action in 2017, as he boasted a fairly modest 7.2 K/9 in Arizona, down from a dominant 10.2 K/9 in the DSL.

Elvin enjoyed the highlight of his young career on July 7, combing with Richard De Los Santos on 7 inning no-hitter. Starting the first game of a double-header, Rodriguez struck out five batters over five innings, allowing only two baserunners on a walk and error. Two weeks later, he made his debut in Arizona and was just as impressive, striking out seven batters against no walks over five innings, allowing only two hits and no runs.

At 6-3, 160 lbs., Rodriguez certainly has room to fill out. If he can add a couple MPH to his fastball while refining his off-speed repertoire, he could climb the rankings of the Angels’ modest system rather quickly. Any 18 year-old pitcher with modest stuff is a long shot, but Rodriguez appears to already possess the type of pitchability you see in prospects with far more experience, making him a player worth keeping an eye on over the next few seasons.