Short season rookie level baseball is often filled with teenagers and players in their early 20s who were recently drafted or spent the past couple years in a Latin complex league. The Arizona League often gets prospects from High-A and Double-A that are on the mend from injury making a few rehab appearances in the Arizona heat, but it is rare to see a big leaguer on the fields in Arizona.
Henry Rodriguez was a big strikeout reliever from 2010-2012 for the Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals and a guy whose stuff was undeniable, but his control was sorely lacking. In just over 150 big league innings, he has 151 strikeouts and 107 walks, including five walks over 1.2 innings for the Miami Marlins earlier this year.
On June 11th, Rodriguez was released by the Marlins, and two days later was signed to a minor league deal by the Chicago White Sox, and was assigned to their complex league affiliate in Arizona to try and work through his control issues.
Thus far it has not worked, as he has walked four batters and given up four runs while allowing just two hits in 3.1 innings of work, he is also credited with 13 wild pitches in with just 19 batters faced.
I got the chance to see Rodriguez in one of his appearances, and it was certainly entertaining. It was a little painful to watch him and his lack of control, but not nearly as painful as it was to be Joshua Morgan, who took a 97 mph fastball off the shoulder. Morgan wound up getting to third base in the inning on a pair of Rodriguez wild pitches.
When he wasn’t hitting batters, or hitting the backstop, he was showing off the pure stuff that will keep him in baseball for some time. His fastball sits 97 MPH and touched 98, but his slider was just plain unfair against hitters at this level.
Yrizarri is a fantastic defender that could make him a future big leaguer, but he struggles with mediocre breaking balls, and he was completely overmatched by Rodriguez’ slider. It is very rare to see that kind of pure stuff at a complex league game, and even thought Rodriguez probably wasn’t happy with his performance, it certainly opened the eyes of the players on the field that day as to how much work they have before they are able to achieve their dream of becoming big league ballplayers.